Two U.S. Air Force jets have intercepted Russian military jets near Alaska, it has been reported.
Two Russian Tupolev Tu-95 planes—known as Bear Bombers—were escorted by two Su-35 flanker planes—for the first time—were spotted in Alaska’s Air Defense Zone on Thursday morning, prompting the U.S. military to scramble aircraft of its own in response, Fox News reported.
They were intercepted by two Air Force F-22s that were already flying on a patrol some 50 miles, or about 80km, southwest of Chariot, Alaska. The intercept started 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Fox reported, citing NORAD.
U.S. officials consider the incident a “Russian provocation,” Fox said.
Tu-95 strategic bombers can fly at very high speeds, as compared with similar aircraft. The plane was developed during the Cold War in response to the U.S. B-52 bomber. A Tu-95 in 1961 dropped the infamous “Tsar-bomb,” the largest and strongest non-nuclear bomb ever tested.
It comes as the U.S Coast Guard issued a warning about Russia, saying the country is far ahead of the United States in the Arctic. “I’m here first, and everyone else, you’re going to be playing catch-up for a generation to catch up to me first,” Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told Foreign Policy.