Russian bombers flew off Alaska and California during Independence Day and were intercepted by U.S. Air Force jets.
Twice on Jul. 4, Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers on long-range patrol missions were intercepted by U.S. jets scrambled from airbases located on the West Coast.
According to Fox News, the first security alert occurred at 10:30 a.m. ET when the Russian nuclear-capable bombers flew off the coast of Alaska and two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor jets were scrambled from their base at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Alaska to intercept the Tu-95s.
The second scramble was ordered at 11.00 when 144th Fighter Wing’s F-15s from Fresno, California, were scrambled to intercept what has been described as another pair of Tu-95 Bear bombers flying off California.
Intercept missions of Russian bombers flying not far from the Continental US (sometimes some hundred miles off) are far from being a routine. In fact, not always are U.S. (or Canadian) fighter jets launched to intercept these “zombies”: in 2014, only 6 out of 10 “incursions” saw U.S. or Canadian aircraft scramble against Moscow’s long-range attack aircraft.
For instance, during the first such incidents this year, on Apr. 22, when two Russian Tu-95 Bear H bombers flew into the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), no U.S. aircraft was dispatched to identify and escort the strategic bombers most probably probing North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) response times.
Interestingly, the Tu-95s were launched over the Pacific Ocean on a long-range flight few days after the flight ban (following the mishap that saw a Bear skid off the runway and catch fire at Ukrainka airfield that caused the death of one crew member) was lifted.
Top image: file photo of a U.S. Air Force F-22 escorting a Tu-95 Bear (USAF)