WASHINGTON — Two Russian bombers, flanked by a pair of fighter jets, were intercepted by stealth US F-22 aircraft off the coast of Alaska on Monday, according to US Northern Command.
The Russian TU-95 Bear bombers and their SU-35 fighter jet escorts stayed in international airspace but did fly as close to 50 miles from Point Hope, Alaska.
This is the first time Russian bombers have been accompanied by fighters in these types of flights, a US official told CNN.
A Russian A-50 Mainstay surveillance plane also later flew into the area but remained in international air space and was not intercepted.
The US military sees these flights as routine and pose no concern, according to the US official.
Last month, Russian military aircraft were spotted flying off the coast of Alaska four times in as many days between April 17 and April 20.
While the Russians have not conducted flights of this nature since 2015, a senior defense official stressed, last month, that they are “not a concern” and attributed the uptick to a recent lack of available Russian aircraft and need to boost training.
“We haven’t seen this sort of level of activity for a couple of years,” NORAD spokesperson John Cornelio said at the time, though he emphasized it was not “unprecedented” or “unusual.”
The US itself has carried out similar flights along both the Chinese and Russian coasts.