U.S. fighter jets on Saturday again intercepted Russian planes that entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone and stayed there for eight hours, Pentagon officials said, with the Russian reconnaissance aircraft coming within 65 miles of Alaska.
It’s the second such incident over just the last three days and the 10th so far this year, military officials said, underscoring the increasingly high tensions between Washington and Moscow off the Alaskan coast.
Pentagon officials said that American F-22 jets intercepted four Russian Tu-142 aircraft that entered the Alaskan defense zone Saturday. Officials said the “Tu-142s came within 65 nautical miles south of the Alaskan Aleutian island chain and loitered in the ADIZ for nearly eight hours,” though they did not at any time enter U.S. or Canadian airspace.
Military officials warn that Russia clearly is becoming more aggressive in its efforts to test the U.S., but they stress that the American military remains ready.
“This year alone, NORAD forces have identified and intercepted Russian military aircraft including bombers, fighters, and maritime patrol aircraft on ten separate occasions when they have flown into the ADIZ,” Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said in a statement. “Despite COVID-19, we remain fully ready and capable of conducting our no-fail mission of homeland defense.”
The pace of the Russian incursions has been increasing dramatically. Last Thursday, NORAD intercepted Russian maritime patrol aircraft in the same area. And on June 17, Russian bombers came within 32 miles of Alaskan shores before being met by American F-22s.