The U.S. military confirmed Tuesday that two of its F-22 fighter jets intercepted Russian bombers approaching Alaska’s coast Monday night.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross said the F-22 jets intercepted TU-95 Bear bombers Monday, calling the maneuver “safe and professional,” The Associated Press reports.
The TU-95 bombers came within the Air Defense Identification Zone of the U.S., as they were only 280 miles away from the Elmendorf Air Force Base, according to Fox News.
Additionally, the nuclear-capable Russian bombers also came within 100 miles of Kodiak Island, but the F-22 Raptors quickly scrambled to intercept them, along with an E-3 early warning plane, and escorted the bombers for about 12 minutes before the TU-95s returned to Russia.
This interception marks the first time Russia has sent bombers this close to the U.S. since President Donald Trump took office. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remarked April 12 while in Moscow that relations between the U.S. and Russia are “at a low point.”
Tillerson discussed the recent chemical weapons attack in Russia, as well as allegations of Russian interference int he 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“We need to attempt to put an end to this steady degradation, which is doing nothing to restore the trust between our two countries or to make progress on the issues of the greatest importance to both of us,” Tillerson said.
Before this incident, the last time Russian bombers flew this close to the U.S. took place on July 4, 2015. On that date, two Russian bombers flew as close as 40 miles from the Californian coast.
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