Two F-22s from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were called Monday to check out four Russian bombers and a tanker that flew near Alaska during an apparent training mission. (David Bedard/Air Force)
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Two long-range Russian bombers flew within 50 miles of the California coast during an apparent training mission Monday, prompting NORAD to scramble two F-22s and two F-15s.
The incident began when four Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers and a tanker entered international airspace outside Alaska. The aircraft entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, extending 200 miles off the coast.
“If anyone is in the international airspace that is a part of our ADIZ and we don’t know who they are — they haven’t filed a flight plan — then we’ll go up and see who they are and what their intent is,” NORAD spokeswoman Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk told Air Force Times.
The F-22s from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, shadowed the aircraft to get a visual identification. The Russian bombers then left the ADIZ, but two broke off and headed south toward the northern California coast.
“Later they entered the ADIZ near the California coast, and at that time two F-15 fighters from Oregon launched and visually identified the aircraft,” Stadnyk said.
The bombers stayed in international airspace during the incident, Stadnyk said.
The U.S. aircraft returned to their bases when the Russian aircraft left the ADIZ.
“This is our process. We go up there and see what’s going on but that’s it — they were allowed to be there,” Stadnyk said. “Our assessment was that they were conducting long-range training flights,” she said.