US Officials reported early Thursday morning two Russian Bear bombers entered Alaska’s Air Defense Zone; for the first time escorted by a pair of Russian Su-35 ‘Flanker’ fighter jets.
This is a new one for the US Air Force. Never have they seen advanced Russian Su-35 fighter jets escort Russian Cold War-era bombers near Alaska.
A pair of US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets, already flying a patrol, came in and gave the Russian formation the news. The intercept began at 21:00 ET on Wednesday night, according to a NORAD spokesperson.
Official stated that the Russian fighter jets were unarmed and stayed in international air space.
Thursday’s episode comes one day after President Trump spoke over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House said the conversation focused on crises in the Middle East and North Korea, with no mention of recent Russian provocations.
The conversation was described in a readout as “a very good one.”
Trump in April said U.S. relations with Russia were at an “all-time low,” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also described the relationship between the countries as being at a “low point.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was not as pessimistic, however, telling “Fox News Sunday” that “I don’t think they have gotten either better or worse.”
For the first time in three years Russian bombers flew near Alaska towards the end of last month. They did this over four consecutive days.