Two Russian Nuclear Bombers Fly Into Alaskan Airspace, Intentions Unknown

Two nuclear-capable Russian bombers entered U.S. airspace for the first time this year in the Alaska air defense zone. Despite the intrusion, no U.S. jets were sent to intercept or shadow the incoming bombers.

The Washington Post reports that the two Russian bombers flew into the U.S. airspace last week. However, they noted that no U.S. jets were sent to shadow the planes like in previous encounters. Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), is remaining mum on the incident but notes that no planes were dispatched last week to the area in question.

As Fox News points out, the incident marks the first Russian incursion on U.S. airspace this year. However, last year Russian bombers were intercepted at least six times with long-range aircraft detected by NORAD on at least 10 other occasions. It is noted that this is probably the first of many Russian bombers that will be seen in U.S. airspace this year. Russia has been frequenting the area as part of a new training and influence operation.

Senior military officials have noted the increased presence of Russian aircraft in U.S. airspace in addition to the incursions on Canadian and EU airspace. Northern Command commander Adm. William Gortney has spoken on the Russian issue and says that the country is developing a very capable military program, noting that both flight missions and numbers of locations for the flights “have gone up” and that the military is getting stronger in the region.

Aside from interactions with the U.S., Russia is also making threatening gestures in the European Union with a number of fighter jets being intercepted. However, Russia isn’t only making a stance in the air, Sweden recently detected a Russian submarine in Swedish waters that caused a stir across the country.

With campaigns aimed at flexing military muscle, the U.S. and other countries in the cross-hairs with Russia can expect to see more Russian military training exercises near their coasts or airspace.

This is the first time that the U.S. has not sent a jet to intercept the Russian bombers. The latest bomber mission identified near Alaska last year was described as provocative and dangerous by the Pentagon. Therefore, a US RC-135 intercepted the bomber and shadowed it back to Russian airspace.

What do you think the U.S. should do about the breech of airspace by the nuclear-capable Russian bombers? Should NORAD have dispatched U.S. jets to shadow or intercept the bombers, or did they do the right thing by ignoring the symbolic threat?

[Image Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

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