On Monday night, two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers came within 100 miles of the Alaskan coastline, prompting the U.S. Air Force to scramble two F-22 fighters and an E-3 reconnaissance plane to intercept them.
“The American jets flew alongside the Russian bombers for 12 minutes, before the Russian bombers reversed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia,” Fox News reports.
The incident occurred about 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base. The Tu-95 is a very old design, so noisy and clumsy that its flights are basically intended to draw attention. The bombers are also large planes capable of carrying huge payloads, including nuclear weapons.
According to Fox News, this was the first Russian bomber to approach U.S. airspace since the Fourth of July in 2015 when a pair of bombers flew along the coasts of Alaska and California. The New York Times counts about 60 U.S. intercepts of Russian warplanes since 2007.
Russian bombers returned to the Alaska coast on Tuesday night, this time approaching to within 36 miles of the mainland north of the Aleutian Islands. The U.S. Air Force sent up an E-3 recon plane to monitor the bombers and make certain no other aircraft were flying beneath them, but this time did not scramble F-22 fighters.
Once again, the Tu-95H bombers returned to an airbase in Russia about a thousand miles away.