U.S. F-22 stealth fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian patrol planes near Alaska on Wednesday night, according to a top military official.
"F-22 fighters, supported by KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 AWACS aircraft from the North American Aerospace Defense Command intercepted two Russian IL-38 aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on April 8th, 2020," NORAD wrote on Twitter.
The two Russian planes were intercepted over the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands, the military airspace command agency also confirmed. The IL-38 aircraft is a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft that is used to detect submarines.
They didn't enter the United States or Canadian airspace, NORAD said.
“Our crews are ready,” O’Shaughnessy said, adding that the Russian aircraft traveled within 50 miles of the Alaskan coast. “We are always ready to defend our great country.”
O’Shaughnessy was asked during the Fox News interview about why Moscow would fly planes so close to American airspace during the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
The Russians "wanted to see if we are able to react," O'Shaughnessy told the network. In a Twitter post, he added: “COVID-19 or not, NORAD continues actively watching for threats and defending the homelands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.,”
Russian aircraft flew around Alaska several weeks ago, triggering a similar response from the United States.