US scrambles fighter jets aimed to intercept two unarmed Russian bombers 100 miles from Alaska - UPDATE
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00 UTC
The two Russian Tu-95 "Bear" tactical bombers flew roughly 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base, within the Air Defense Identification Zone of the United States. The U.S. Air Force promptly scrambled two F-22 stealth fighter jets and an E-3 airborne early warning plane to intercept the Russian bombers.
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.
An official quoted by the Washington Examiner said that while TU-95s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the planes involved in Monday's incident did not appear armed. The interception was conducted in a "safe and professional" manner, the official added, as the bombers did not violate U.S. airspace or break international norms.
Monday's incident comes amid escalating tension between Russia and the U.S., particularly over Syria's ongoing civil war. Trump's decision to strike Assad's government earlier this month put the U.S. at odds with Russia, which has long supported Assad. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that the chemical attack was staged.
Lavrov also said that another U.S. military strike in Syria could prompt "grave consequences not only for regional but global security." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said earlier this month that U.S.-Russia relations have hit "a low point" following the strike. The top U.S. diplomat added that "improvement in the long-term relationship" between both nations is required to resolve the conflict in Syria.
The last time Russian bombers flew near the U.S. was July 4, 2015, when a pair of Russian bombers flew off the coasts of Alaska and California, coming as close as 40 miles to Mendocino, Calif. Russian President Vladimir Putin called then-President Barack Obama to wish him a happy Independence Day while the bombers cruised the California coastline.
Comment: Be reassured, dear readers: the U.S. is now relatively confident that Russia is not trying to annex Alaska:
Fox News reports:Thank the Lord!The two nuclear-capable Tu-95H bombers were spotted by U.S. military radar at 5 p.m. local time.We have it on high authority the Air Force chose not to scramble because they are convinced by Russia Insider's insightful commentary that the Russians are probably just barrel bombing baby seals, or something similar — but certainly not trying to annex American land.
Unlike a similar incident Monday night, this time the U.S. Air Force did not scramble any fighter jets.
Instead, it launched a single E-3 Sentry early warning aircraft, known as AWACS, to make sure there were only the two Russian bombers flying near Alaska, and not other aircraft flying underneath the large bombers.
The Americans still launched an AWACS though just to be sure. Trust but verify, as the Gipper would say to commies.
That's the USAF for you: keeping the US safe — and Alaska American! Well done, boys.