A team of F-22s, supported by KC-135 tankers, intercepted three sets of two Russian Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone late Aug. 27, North American Aerospace Defense Command announced. A day later, two Russian Su-27 Flankers conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a USAF B-52 flying over the international waters of the Black Sea, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa announced.
The Russian pilots crossed within 100 feet of the B-52’s nose “multiple times at co-altitude and while in afterburner, causing turbulence and restricting the B-52’s ability to maneuver,” according to the release.
“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. “While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents,” he added.
On Aug. 27, the Russian aircraft loitered off for about five hours, coming within 50 nautical miles of Alaskan shores, though they remained in international air space the entire time, NORAD said in a release. On Aug. 26, NORAD monitored a Russian submarine that surfaced in international waters near Alaska.
“Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defenses,” said USAF Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, in the release. “This year, we’ve conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent.”
NORAD would not say how many F-22s took part in the intercept, but did say the flight did not include an E-3 Sentry, unlike some previous intercepts.
The intercepts this summer have repeatedly involved Tu-142s, along with IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft, Tu-95 Bear bombers, A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, and Su-35 fighters. Earlier this month, the Russian government claimed three of its MiG-31s intercepted an RQ-4B that was operating in the Chukchi Sea.