Aircraft from the United States and Canadian military intercepted two Russian jets flying near the coast of Alaska for several hours, military officials announced this week.
As CBS News reported, a Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance aircraft flew over the Beaufort Sea near the coast of Alaska on Monday, prompting responses from both the American and Canadian militaries. The report noted that F-22 and CF-18 jets were scrambled to escort the Russian aircraft, which never entered American or Canadian airspace during the course of its four-hour flight even though the jets did come within 50 miles of the coastline.
As the report noted, it is not uncommon for Russian jets to fly near the American and Canadian coasts, a practice that began more than a decade ago and is seen as an attempt by Russia to gauge military responses. There have been between five and seven of these incursions each year since 2007, said Cameron Hillier, a NORAD spokesman based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Russian military has made no secret of these incursions, often releasing information afterward. The flights sometimes happen with regularity. As The Inquisitr noted last year, there were two such incursions over two days in May, with Russian bombers again flying in international skies off the coast of Alaska.
As officials said at the time, both the United States and Canada stand ready to intercept these incursions.
“NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States,” General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the NORAD commander, said in a statement. “Our ability to protect our nations starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace.”
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) March 11, 2020
The military maneuvers take place at a time of high tension between the United States and Russia related to President Vladimir Putin’s purported interference in the 2016 election and reports that Russia intends to meddle in the 2020 election. Though Putin has repeatedly denied that Russia had any role in election interference, American intelligence agencies believe that Russia undertook a campaign to push divisions among American voters with an ultimate goal of helping Donald Trump get elected.
As The Inquisitr noted, the House Intelligence Committee was briefed last month on these continued efforts, with Russia reportedly still undertaking a campaign to help Trump get re-elected in November.
“The message was, it appears they’re favoring one candidate over another, and everybody should be cautious,” a source who attended the meeting later told CBS News.