U.S. defense forces have intercepted and escorted Russian war planes spotted near Alaskan air space.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command says two of its F-22s intercepted two Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers inside the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday.
A short time later, two additional Tu-95s and two Sukhoi Su-35 fighters were identified and intercepted by two other NORAD F-22s.
A U.S. E-3 Sentry maintained overall surveillance on the operation. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace.
A NORAD F-22 (top) is seen intercepting and escorting a Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber (bottom) inside the Alaska ADIZ on Monday
Two Tu-95s (top and bottom right) are seen after they were intercepted on Monday. Russia said it was conducting an observation flight in accordance with international law
The ADIZ is a buffer extending beyond U.S. airspace within which all civilian aircraft must identify themselves.
Russian military aircraft that cross through the ADIZ on a training mission are typically allowed to continue on once identified, as long as they do not attempt to enter U.S. airspace.
'Our ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens and vital infrastructure starts with detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft our airspace,' said General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD, in a statement on Monday's incident.
'We are on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,' O'Shaughnessy said.
The Alaska ADIZ (seen in crosshatch) extends well beyond US airspace. All civilian craft entering the zone must identify themselves. All military craft are monitored and intercepted
A NORAD E-3 Sentry (like the one seen above in a file photo) provided surveillance for the US intercept of the two strategic bomber groups on Monday
Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that its Tu-95MS bombers made an observation flight along the western coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and were shadowed by F-22 fighter jets.
'Four Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers of the Aerospace Force performed planned flights in the airspace over the neutral waters of the Chukotsk, Bering and Okhotsk Seas, and also along the western coast of Alaska and the northern coast of the Aleutian Islands,' the ministry said in a statement, according to state-run TASS.
The Tu-95MS strategic bombers spent over 12 hours in the air, the ministry said.
Russia said that its long-range aircraft regularly perform flights over the international waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Russia's defense ministry said that the flights are performed in strict compliance with the international rules of using the airspace, without violating the borders of other states.