Russian Bombers Spotted Off Alaskan Coast
The two most recent incidents occurred Wednesday and Thursday, involving two Il-38 patrol aircraft and two Tu-95 Bear bombers.
In particular, on Wednesday, United States officials told Fox News that Russia had flown two long-range strategic bombers near Alaska the night before, this time coming within 67 km of the US mainland as they flew north of the Aleutian Islands.
In addition to US F-22 jets, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) also dispatched CF-18 jets to perform an interception Thursday.
The Russian jets have never entered the airspace of the US or Canada acting "professionally and safely," NORAD’s spokeswoman Maj. Jennifer Stadnyk was quoted as saying by the CTV broadcaster.
"Obviously we are aware of it. This is not highly unusual… but we monitor everything," White House press secretary Sean Spicer was quoted as saying by CNN.
"Over the international waters near Alaska Tu-95MS jets were escorted by F-22 fighters of the US Air Force during 27 minutes," an official statement by the Defense Ministry read.
The ministry pointed out that Russian jets regularly carry out patrol flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic region, Atlantic Ocean, Black Sea and Pacific Ocean.
According to Russian merited pilot and aviation expert Maj. Gen. Vladimir Popov, the Russian aircraft did not violate the airspace of other countries.
"This are international waters and Russian planes patrol this area. The neighboring country may somehow react to this. Russia conducts its own missions, including, for example, checking pilots’ skills. This is normal. The aircraft did not violate the airspace of the neighboring country," Popov told Radio Sputnik.
According to him, the Tu-95MS bombers spotted near Alaska were on a routine mission.
Alexei Leonkov, a military expert and commercial director of "Arsenal of the Fatherland" magazine, said: "This kind of flight is a routine matter for our strategic and long-range aircraft. The same thing is done by the Americans. For example, their reconnaissance planes regularly appear on our shores."
According to him, when such flights are conducted the parties usually inform one another that the aircraft are not carrying nuclear weapons or that this is a training flight with various flight tasks.
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