The U.S. military has said that American and Canadian fighter jets were scrambled after two nuclear-capable Russian heavy bombers entered Canada’s air defense identification zone on Saturday in the Arctic region near the North American coastline.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command said that two U.S. F-22 fighter jets, an E-3 early warning aircraft and two Canadian CF-18 fighters had identified and escorted two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers after they entered an area patrolled by the Royal Canadian Air Force on Saturday morning.
The Tu-160s remained in international space and did not enter Canadian or U.S. territory, the statement said, and there were no reports of conflict between the Russian and the U.S. and Canadian aircraft.
The Russian bombers’ flight was the first known this year, but a similar scenario played out last year, when Russian bombers escorted by fighter jets flew near Alaska on Sept. 11 before the U.S. intercepted them with F-22s.
NORAD says it uses radar, satellites and fighter aircraft to patrol the skies and monitor aircraft entering U.S. or Canadian airspace.
“NORAD’s top priority is defending Canada and the United States. Our ability to protect our nations starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace,” NORAD head Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said in the statement.
Saturday’s incident also came after a Russian Tupolev Tu-22 bomber crashed in the country’s northwestern Murmansk region, according to media reports.
The accident occurred last week, as the long-range bomber was attempting to land, according to Russian state news agency TASS, citing law enforcement officials.
The warplane had four crew members onboard, and two were killed, TASS reported.
The Tupolev Tu-22 is a supersonic long-range bomber that entered service in Russia during the 1980s.
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