US, Canadian fighters intercept Russian planes near Alaska

The Arctic encounter comes two days after a similar one near Norway.

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Two days after Russian military aircraft made an unusually long flight past Norway’s coast toward the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, similar aircraft made a similar flight in the North American Arctic.

On Monday, a pair of Russian Tu-142 aircraft, a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine plane, entered the United States’ Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone in the Beaufort Sea and remained there for about four hours, at times coming as close as 50 miles to the Alaska coast, according to a NORAD Press Release.

The Russian planes didn’t enter U.S. or Canadian airspace and were escorted during their flight in the ADIZ (a control zone outside territorial airspace) by U.S. Air Force F-22 fighters and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighters, NORAD said.

In a release, NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said the monitoring action illustrates how “NORAD continues to operate in the Arctic across multiple domains.”

A similar Tu-142 flight on Saturday was escorted by Norwegian F-35s and F-16s, as well as by British Typhoon fighters.

The flights come as the U.S. and Canada, along with the United Kingdom, Norway and Japan take part in the U.S. Navy-led Ice Exercise 2020 near the North Pole. Meanwhile, Norway was also hosting a major Arctic military exercise, Cold Response 2020, but that drill has been cut short due the threat of a coronavirus outbreak.