A pair of U.S. Air Force stealth fighter jets intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable bombers Friday morning off the coast of Alaska, a spokesman for NORAD (North American Aeorospace Defense Command) told Fox News.
The approach by the two Tupolev Tu-95 Russian "Bear" aircraft marked the first time in just over a year that Russian bombers had flown that close to U.S. territory.
Two separate defense officials reached by Fox News said the Russian bombers came within 55 miles of Alaska’s west coast. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss that portion of the intercept.
The bombers entered a U.S. air-defense identification zone (ADIZ), defined as airspace extending approximately 200 miles from the nation's coastline, though mainly composed of international airspace.
The F-22s monitored the Russian aircraft until the bombers left the ADIZ along the Aleutian Islands, heading west. At no time did the bombers enter North American sovereign airspace, said the NORAD spokesman, Canadian Army Maj. Andrew Hennessey.
The Cold War-era Russian bombers, which date to the 1950s, were intercepted by U.S. Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets around 10 a.m. EDT.
The intercept was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
Earlier this month, a Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane in the Baltic Sea. The Russian Sukhoi Su-27 jet came within 20 feet of the American P-8 in international airspace.
The last time Russian bombers flew as close to Alaska was May 3, 2017, officials told Fox News.
Separately, Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of NORAD, the command that monitors all air activity emanating from within and outside North American airspace.