U.S. Air Force F-22 stealth fighters have intercepted Russian bombers that entered the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for the second day in a row, authorities revealed on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), two pairs of F-22 fighter jets, each with an E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System intercepted Tu-95 bomber and Su-35 fighter jets on Wednesday. It's unclear how many Russian aircraft were involved, but the bomber and jet reportedly entered the ADIZ several times during the intercept.
"NORAD committed an additional two F-22s and E-3 to relieve the initial intercept aircraft," the statement added. "A KC-135 refueling aircraft supported both of NORAD’s intercept teams. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace and at no time entered U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace."
This is the fifth time this year that F-22s have intercepted Russian aircraft near the ADIZ, NORAD said.
The ADIZ is airspace that stretches 200 miles out from the coastline and is monitored by NORAD. U.S. territorial airspace begins 12 miles from the Alaska coastline.
On Tuesday, F-22 fighters and an E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System intercepted four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters, according to NORAD.
Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the commander of NORAD said in a statement that NORAD's top priority is to defend Canada and the United States from threats.
"Our ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens and vital infrastructure starts with detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft our airspace. We are on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," the general said.
NORAD is a joint effort between the U.S. and Canada to identify any unidentified aircraft passing through the American or Canadian ADIZs.
This isn't the first time Russia has attempted to penetrate the ADIZ. NORAD said pilots have intercepted an average of approximately six to seven Russian sorties entering the ADIZ every year since Russia resumed long range aviation patrols in 2007.