Two Russian bombers were identified in airspace above the Beaufort Sea on Thursday last week, the joint Canada-US North American Aerospace Defence Command – known as Norad – reported.
“Norad operators identified and intercepted the Russian aircraft flying near our nations,” commander General Terrence O’Shaughnessy stated in a news release.
The two Tu-95 Bear H aircraft were flying in what Norad terms the “air defence identification zones” of Alaska and Canada, buffer zones surrounding North America that allow aircraft to be identified before entering either country’s airspace.
“The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace in the Beaufort Sea and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace,” Norad stated.
The Beaufort Sea. Wikimedia Commons photo
The defence command used two F-22 and two CF-18 fighter jets with support from three other aircraft to intercept the Russian bombers.
Interception involves investigating an aircraft picked up on radar by flying close to the plane in question, gathering information, and escorting it out of controlled airspace if required.
This is not the first time Russian aircraft have caught the attention of the joint defence command. Norad states Russian aircraft enter its air defence identification zones an average of six to seven times each year since Russia resumed “long-range aviation patrols” in 2007.
In 2019 to date, Russian aircraft have been reported in these zones six times. In late May, several Russian bombers were said to have flown into the Alaskan zone twice in two days.
Norad stated it uses a “layered defence network of radars, satellites, and fighter aircraft” to locate aircraft and determine how to respond. Norad pulls forces from both countries to respond to potential aerospace threats.