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U.S. intercepts Russian jets near Alaska for 2nd straight day

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
A U.S. F-22 fighter jet flies alongside a Russian Tu-95 bomber Tuesday off the northern coast of Alaska. Photo courtesy NORAD Command/Twitter
A U.S. F-22 fighter jet flies alongside a Russian Tu-95 bomber Tuesday off the northern coast of Alaska. Photo courtesy NORAD Command/Twitter

May 22 (UPI) -- For the second day in a row, officials say the U.S. military has intercepted Russian military jets near the Alaskan coast.

North American Aerospace Defense Command said Wednesday American pilots intercepted Russian Tu-95 bombers and Su-35 fighter jets on Tuesday. U.S. F-22 fighters chased the Russian planes until they left the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.

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NORAD said the bombers entered the zone, were intercepted and left -- only to return a short time later, accompanied by the Russian fighters.

U.S. officials said the Russian planes didn't enter U.S. sovereign airspace, which extends vertically above U.S. territorial waters. Aircraft are allowed to fly in the ADIZ without authorization, but will be intercepted and treated as enemy aircraft.

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An E-3 spy plane monitored the airspace while a U.S. KC-135 refueling plane provided support during the mission.

The encounter Tuesday was the second in two days involving Russian planes. Monday, U.S. pilots intercepted six Russian military planes. The Russian defense ministry said they were "scheduled sorties" over neutral waters.

NORAD said U.S. forces have intercepted an average of six or seven Russian planes in the Alaska zone every year since 2007.

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"This is the 4th and 5th intercepts this year and we have the 2nd day in a row that Russia has flown into the Alaskan ADIZ," NORAD said in a tweet.

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