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U.S. fighter planes intercept Russian bombers near Alaska

By Ed Adamczyk
U.S. fighter planes intercept Russian bombers near Alaska
Two Tu-95 "bear" bombers, similar to the one pictured, were intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off the Alaskan coast on Monday night. The U.S. planes flew alongside the Russian planes for 12 minutes before the Russian planes reversed course and left the area. Photo courtesy of Russian Defense Ministry

April 19 (UPI) -- For the second time in 24 hours, the U.S. military tracked two Russian bombers near the Alaskan coast, U.S. officials said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spotted the long-range Tu-95 "Bear" bombers Tuesday afternoon about 36 miles from the Alaskan coast.

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They stayed in international airspace at all times, U.S. officials said, and no U.S. aircraft were launched to meet them.

On Monday night, U.S. fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers near Alaska and flew alongside them for 12 minutes before the Russian planes reversed course, U.S. officials said.

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The bombers, capable of carrying nuclear bombs, breached the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Mo nday night, an area around the perimeter of the United States and Canada in which aircraft must identify their course and destination. Although the planes stayed in international airspace, they passed within 100 miles of Alaska's Kodiak Islands.

While Russians bombers often fly near the U.S. coast, it is the first time during the administration of President Donald Trump that they have flown so close. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week in Moscow that U.S.-Russia relations were at a "low point."

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The Russian planes flew about 280 miles southwest of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, an air base in Anchorage, which scrambled two F-22 fighter planes and an E-3 airborne early warning plane to intercept the Russian aircraft. After the Russian planes left the area, U.S, officials reported that although there no bridge-to-bridge communication between the U.S. and Russian planes, the Russians acted "very professionally."

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Neither the Pentagon nor the Russian Defense Ministry commented on the incident.

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