05:37 GMT +320 November 2019
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    What is Known So Far About Russian Strategic Bombers Flying Near Alaska

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    Russian military aircraft were spotted flying near the Alaskan coast for the fourth time in four days, a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spokesperson told CNN Friday. According to experts, such flights are a routine mission, including patrolling neutral waters and reconaissance.

    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.

    The first incident took place Monday night. The US responded by scrambling two F-22 jets and an E-3 Sentry early warning plane to intercept the Russian planes, which were flying about 161 km from Kodiak Island. However, the second time around, the USAF decided not to scramble fighter jets.

    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.

    Routine Mission

    Commenting on the Monday incident, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that two Tu-95MS bombers were escorted by US fighters near Alaska.

    "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.

    "All flights by the Aerospace Force were carried out and are carried out in strict accordance with the international rules of using the airspace over neutral waters without violation of borders of other states," the statement added.

    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.

    "Our aviation conducts monitoring and reconnaissance missions. For example, before a submarine breaks surface or a ship enters the area the ice situation should be monitored. While 5-7 years ago such flights were occasional, now they are more systematic. They draw interest," Popov explained.

    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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    Tu-95MS, Russian Aerospace Forces, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Alaska, Russia, United States
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