Date: 30 June 2020
An Increase in U.S. and Russian Aerial Activity over the North Pacific
The United States has taken action to respond to Russia’s beefed-up aerial activity around each other’s border in the Pacific. A couple of U.S. B-52Hs from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana arrived at the base in Alaska in a move that prompted the Russian military to build up its maritime patrol presence in the area. Recent weeks have seen a couple of incidents with both sides intercepting each other’s planes flying towards the two’s borders.
U.S. F-22 stealth fighter aircraft were scrambled on June 27 to intercept four Russian Tu-142 long-range reconnaissance jets off Alaska, said North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in a statement. The intercepting aircraft are based at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. The incident marked the tenth time this year that such a back-and-forth probe between Russia and the U.S. has taken place, according to NORAD. Yet Russian jets did not enter U.S. or Canadian airspace. A similar incident occurred two days before. Two Russian Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft had come within 80 kilometers of Unimak Island and got intercepted by NORAD jets near Alaska on June 25, according to General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, NORAD chief. Six days earlier, Russia had scrambled fighter jets to intercept two USAF B-52H bombers over the Sea of Okhotsk. Russian Defense Ministry said on June 19 the air defense quick reaction alert forces of the Eastern Military District had spotted and started tracking a pair of U.S. bombers. The U.S. aircraft had been detected by the Russian airspace monitoring system at a considerable distance from the state border of the Russian Federation and then were taken to escort by Russia’s Su-30, Su-35, and MiG-31 fighters. On June 17, Russian radar stations tracked the flight of U.S. B-52H strategic bombers over the northeastern Pacific; the jets had not approached Russia’s borders. As reported by NORAD on June 15, three B-52Hs flew from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. “The bombers are supporting Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with allies, partners and joint forces, and strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the region,” U.S. military said. Certainly this comes amid Russia’s heightened aerial activity right off Alaska.
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