Two U.S. fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska on Friday.
The Russian TU-95 "Bear" bombers flew into a so-called Air Defense Identification Zone located about 200 miles off Alaska's west coast, at about 10 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Canadian Army Major Andrew Hennessy said in a statement to CNN.
Two Alaska-based NORAD F-22 fighter jets intercepted and visually identified the Russian bombers until they left the identification zone and the Russian aircraft never entered U.S. airspace, CNN reported, citing the statement.
Russian bombers TU-95 and TU-142 were escorted by two F-22 fighter jets in international airspace for 40 minutes, the RIA news agency cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on Saturday.
The U.S. fighter jets did not get closer then 100 meters to the Russian bombers, the Russian military was quoted as saying.
Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command charged with aerospace warning and control for North America.
In April 2017, NORAD and the Pentagon said Tu-95 "Bear" bombers -- four-engine Cold War-era turboprop giants that can carry nuclear weapons -- were spotted in international airspace on three occasions -- twice near the Aleutians and once near mainland Alaska and Canada.
That was the first sighting of such Russian long-range bombers around Alaska in about two and a half years, a Pentagon spokesman said at the time.
Tensions between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies are running at levels not seen since the Cold War.
The Alaska incident comes after a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, U.S. media reported, citing the U.S. Navy.
Earlier, on January 29, the U.S. Navy released video of a Russian Su-27 intercepting a US EP-3 Aries surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The interception, which lasted two hours and 40 minutes, was "unsafe" because the Russian jet was "closing to within five feet and crossing directly" through the surveillance plane's flight path, "causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27's jet wash," the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
NATO naval officials in late 2017 also reported Russian submarines probing underseas data cables in the North Atlantic.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in January, as he unveiled the Pentagon's national defense strategy, that the United States is facing "growing threats" from Russia and China, and he warned that the U.S. military's advantages have eroded in recent years.
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