Northern Command scrambled two F-22 Raptor and two F-15 Eagle fighters on Monday against a fleet of Russian bombers off the Alaska and northern California coasts, Pentagon officials said Thursday.
The Russian planes included four long-range Tu-95 Bear bombers and a refueling aircraft that briefly entered the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone off Alaska at about 4:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Two of the bombers turned back when the F-22s made visual contact but the other two turned south and again briefly entered the ADIZ at about 9:30 p.m. Pacific time off northern California, where they were met by two F-15s, said Maj. Beth Smith, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The ADIZ extends about 200 miles off the coast while “sovereign airspace” extends 12 nautical miles from land. A NORAD statement said the Russian planes never came near U.S. sovereign airspace.
The Russian fly-bys were not unusual, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. There have been about 50 such incidents over the last five years, Warren said.