Yesterday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) identified and intercepted additional Russian fighter jets and bombers entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
This interception is in addition to the two that occurred on Monday, making a total of four Russian intercepts in two days.
Captain Cameron Hillier is the spokesperson for NORAD and confirmed that on Tuesday, two Russian TU-95 BEAR bombers entered the neutral ADIZ before being intercepted by two American F-22s. The Russian bombers left the ADIZ and returned, accompanied by two Russian SU -35 fighter jets.
“At which point they were greeted by an additional F-22 Intercept team with E-3 support and tanker support.”
Hillier explains that the intercepts aren’t combative moves. They allow for NORAD to send up fighter jets to get “eyes on” the situation:
“An intercept is one of the components of identification of unknown aircraft coming into North American airspace we have radars, satellites and other electronic means of identifying aircraft but the intercept itself is part of the visual identification”
He says the intercept concluded sometime between seven and ten o’clock last night (Tuesday).
The NORAD press release states that “Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.”
Sovereign airspace begins 12 nautical miles from the coast. Captain Hillier describes the ADIZ as a neutral airspace but once an object is detected within that space, NORAD will go identify and assess the situation.
“Essentially that’s what we use to kind of measure as far as that line in international airspace to say, ‘Ok, we need to react by this point in order to have an effective response to make sure this unknown person doesn’t pose a security threat’ ”.
NORAD regularly encounters Russian aircraft in similar events, about 6 or 7 times annually. But Captain Hillier says four in two days is a lot.
“Typically we don’t have multi-access, concurrent and consecutive air defense identification zone incursions such as this.”
He does say that, since 2007. there have been years where NORAD has had up to 15 encounters, so it is too early in the year to draw any conclusions about a pattern. In 2007, Russia resumed long-range aviation patrols.
The intercepting American F-22 fighter jets did deploy from Alaska, but Hillier does not confirm from where or the route they flew.
“They do have a number of options throughout the state where they can deploy from.”
The NORAD press release states these most recent interceptions make the fourth and fifth for 2019.
Image at top: KNOM file photo.