Two U.S. fighter jets intercepted four Russian aircraft off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, including two Russian fighter jets, for the first time in years, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said Thursday.
Two U.S. F-22s intercepted two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers and two Su-35 Flanker jets on Wednesday afternoon, said Lori O’Donley, a NORAD spokeswoman.
The Russian jets remained in international airspace, she added.
U.S. planes intercepted Russian bombers several times last month, the first time Russia had conducted flights of that nature since 2015. The incidents piqued public concern, though the Pentagon has said they’re considered routine.
Last month’s incidents, though, did not include Su-35s.
The last time Su-35s accompanied bombers on such flights was 2014, O’Donley said.
“This wasn’t anything unlike what we saw a couple weeks ago other than the fact that the Su-35s were there,” she said.
In April, the Pentagon suggested the Russian bomber flights could have been part of testing for the long-grounded aircraft.
“I can’t divine their intent; it’s certainly well known that they had some maintenance problems with this particular type of bomber and grounded them for some period of time,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters. “That may explain the hiatus in them doing it.” (The Hill)