For the second time this month, two Russian long-range bombers were intercepted by US Air Force jets after NORAD scrambled the fighters off the Alaskan coast. The dangerous incident happened - perhaps symbolically - on Sept. 11, according to military statements.
The U.S. military said Wednesday that two Russian nuclear-capable bombers escorted by two fighter jets flew near Alaska on Sept. 11 before being intercepted by a pair of Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets, according to a statement by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The Russian formation never entered U.S. or Canadian airspace, according to the statement.
The US military statement didn't designate a precise location, but only mentioned the formation of Russian bombers and fighter jets were intercepted "west of mainland Alaska" by the American stealth aircraft at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Previously this month, on Sept. 1, a similar formation of two bombers were intercepted by American F-22's after they reportedly entered into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone south of the Aleutian Islands. And last May, another incident was reported in NORAD official statements.
The timing of this latest incident is interesting, given the significance of 9/11 and the terror attacks over the skies of two major American cities which resulted in NORAD grounding all civilian aviation.
The Russian MoD released this video the day after the intercept incident near Alaska:
Dos portacohetes estratégicos Tu-95MS de las Fuerzas Aeroespaciales en el marco de las maniobras #Vostok2018 realizaron vuelos planificados sobre las aguas neutrales de los mares de Barents, de Chukotka, de Siberia Oriental y el océano Ártico https://t.co/6sdQiEaO9c pic.twitter.com/hpFgSbTZSG— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) September 12, 2018
Tuesday's incident also comes as Russia launched its largest military drill since 1981, called Vostok-2018, which reportedly involves some 300,000 troops and over 1,000 aircraft, as well as thousands of Chinese soldiers and a smaller Mongolian contingent.
And perhaps even more interesting is that a day after the intercept (Wednesday) Russia's defense ministry (MoD) released a video on Twitter featuring two Tu-95 "Bear" bombers and a pair of fighter jets taking off from an airbase in eastern Russia, precisely as the same formation NORAD says it intercepted in its Wednesday statement.
It is entirely possible that the Russian MoD's tweet was meant to troll NORAD and the Pentagon, and it's also possible though not certain that the aircraft depicted in the video were the exact same ones intercepted by the US Air Force near Alaska.