Russian surveillance aircraft were spotted inside the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on two separate occasions over a two-day period this week, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said on Tuesday.
The Alaskan NORAD Region detected, tracked and identified the foreign aircraft, which “remained in international airspace and did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace,” the agency said in a press release.
NORAD stated that it employs a “layered defense network” comprised of satellites, radars — both ground and airborne — and fighter jets to keep tabs on aircraft.
“We remain ready to employ a number of response options in defense of North American and Arctic Sovereignty,” NORAD’s statement warned.
The Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone extends for hundreds of miles around the shore and is monitored for national security purposes, according to the military’s Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
This is not the first time that nosy Russian aircraft buzzed US airspace.
In June 2020, a pair of IL-38 maritime patrol planes came within 50 miles of Unimak Island along Alaska’s Aleutian chain but were intercepted without entering American airspace.
The last time NORAD reported such an incident was in Oct. 2021, when five Russian aircraft were spotted inside the defense zone.
Since Russia resumed long-range aviation activities in 2007, there has been an average of around seven intercepts a year.
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