US Air Force F-22s intercept Russian nuclear bomber off Alaska
The US Air Force has intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable jets flying near Alaska, according to a statement by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The interception took place on September 11, when the USAF sent a pair of F-22 Raptor stealth jets to escort two Russian Tu-95 bombers away from American airspace, NORAD announced Wednesday.
Two Sukhoi Su-35 Flankers were also accompanying the long-range bombers.
The Russian pilots were flying "west of mainland Alaska" but never entered American or Canadian airspace, the statement said.
"The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace" and were intercepted after flying into the US Air Defense Identification Zone, which runs some 200 miles off Alaska's western coast.
Earlier in the day, the Russian military released video on Twitter showing a pair of Tu-95 "Bear" bombers and a pair of fighter jets taking off from an airbase in eastern Russia.
The was the second time this month that the USAF scrambled F-22s to escort Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska.
The previous encounter occurred south of the Aleutian Islands on September 1 but the Russian Tu-95s were not escorted by Russian fighter jets back then.
A similar interception took place in May, when two Tu-95s bombers flew within 55 miles of Alaska’s west coast, military officials said. The Russian planes did not enter US airspace on either of the previous two occasions.
Meanwhile, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported Wednesday that the US had refused to certify Russia's advanced Tu-214ON surveillance plane for inspections under the Open Skies Treaty (OST).
The OST allows its 34 members to carry out unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of each other using certain aircraft.
"In breach of the Open Skies Treaty provisions, the head of the US delegation refused to sign the final document, without giving any explanations or reasons, and citing direct instructions from Washington," he said. "We insist that the US side return to the Open Skies Treaty framework and demand that the current situation be explained with reference to the treaty's provisions."
The aircraft, equipped with Russian-made digital observation equipment, was inspected by 72 experts from 23 OST countries earlier this month and all of them members except for the US confirmed its compliance.