Two Russian nuclear-capable bombers intruded into the U.S. air defense zone near Alaska last week in the latest saber rattling by Moscow, defense officials said.
The Tu-95 Bear H bombers flew into the Alaska zone on April 22. But unlike most earlier incursions, no U.S. interceptor jets were dispatched to shadow them, said defense officials familiar with the latest U.S.-Russian aerial encounter.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), declined to confirm the incursion. But he said no jets were dispatched last week to intercept intruding aircraft.
The incident was the first Russian bomber incursion of a U.S. or Canadian air defense zone this year. Officials said it likely signals the start of Russia’s long-range aviation spring training cycle. Further aerial incursions are expected.
Last year, U.S. and Canadian jets intercepted Russian bombers on at least six occasions, and intruding Russian long-range aircraft were detected on 10 occasions, Davis said.
Despite remaining in international airspace, “we believe that if the Russian military filed flight plans and self-identified—by ‘squawking and talking’—the overall safety of flight would be enhanced,” Davis said.
“And it could also reduce the number of times we scrambled fighter jets to intercept the aircraft, thereby reducing the potential for miscalculation.”
Davis said the increase in flights near North America coincided with Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine and Crimea.
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