Four Russian Aircraft Flying Near Alaska Intercepted

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced on Monday that it positively identified and tracked four Russian aircraft flying near Alaska before escorting them out of the area.

According to the New York Post, the four aircraft, which included TU-95 BEAR-H bombers and SU-35 fighter jets, were intercepted in what government officials describe as a “routine intercept.”

NORAD, in a statement, revealed that the aircraft remained in international airspace and did not enter U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace even though they were operating within the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). NORAD added that the incident was not viewed as a threat or provocative because it was common to have Russian activity in the North American ADIZ.

“NORAD had anticipated this Russian activity and, as a result of our planning, was prepared to intercept it,” NORAD said in the statement. “NORAD tracks and positively identifies foreign military aircraft that enter the ADIZ. NORAD routinely monitors foreign aircraft movements and as necessary, escorts them from the ADIZ.”

The agencies also revealed that two of its F-16 fighters, with support from two F-35A fighters, one E-3 Sentry (AWACS), and two KC-135 Stratotabkers, intercepted the Russian aircraft.

NORAD revealed that it has tracked an average of approximately six Russian military aircraft in the ADIZ since Russia resumed its “out of area Long Range Aviation” activity in 2007. NORAD, however, added that the activity is in no way related to the recent sighting of airborne objects — including the Chinese spy balloon — over North America recently.

Following the incident, NORAD conducted a “live-fly air defense exercise” off the coast of Washington state and British Columbia on Wednesday.

“To test responses, systems, and equipment, NORAD routinely conducts air defense exercises using a variety of scenarios, including airspace restriction violations, hijackings, and responding to unknown aircraft,” NORAD said in a statement while noting the exercise was in no way connected to the airborne objects and that it has been planned for months.