U.S. and Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to escort two Russian nuclear-capable bombers away from the North American coastline in the Arctic region, military officials say.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on January 26 said two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers were identified entering an area patrolled by the Royal Canadian Air Force on January 25.
It said two U.S. F-22 and two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets flew to the location and escorted the Russian bombers out of the zone. The U.S. jets flew out of a base in the U.S. state of Alaska, the military said.
The reports did not specify the exact location of the encounter. The military monitors air traffic in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends 320 kilometers off Alaska.
Russian state-run TASS news agency on January 27 cited U.S. officials as saying the Russian jets did not enter “sovereign territory.”
It quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying the two strategic bombers “completed a scheduled flight over neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean [and] practiced refueling” during a 15-hour flight.