NORAD jets intercept, escort Russian planes north of Alaska

U.S. and Canadian aircraft intercepted and escorted two Russian jets that flew over the Beaufort Sea near the Alaska coastline, military officials said Tuesday, March 10.

The Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft were escorted by F-22 and CF-18 planes, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a release.

The Russian jets never left international airspace during the duration of the four-hour flight on Monday, but did come as close as 50 miles of the Alaska coast, likely closest to Utqiagvik, the northernmost community in the U.S. and formerly known as Barrow, Capt. Cameron Hillier, a NORAD spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, told The Associated Press.

NORAD officials said in the release that the Russian aircraft did not enter U.S. or Canadian sovereign air space.

Russian jets flying near Alaska or Canada are fairly routine, with the last occurring in January. Hillier said such incursions happen on average between five to seven times a year since Russia restarted the practice in 2007.