By Andrew Thornebrooke
U.S. fighter jets intercepted four Russian military aircraft that entered Alaska’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Feb. 13.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which oversees North American airspace and its defense, responded to the incursion with two F-16 fighters and five other supporting aircraft including two F-35s, according to a press statement.
The NORAD forces successfully intercepted a group of Russian bombers and fighters that entered Alaska’s ADIZ.
Alaska’s ADIZ is not part of U.S. airspace, but the zone immediately surrounding it in which NORAD tracks and identifies foreign aircraft.
The NORAD statement said that the incursion was “in no way related” to several high-profile efforts by NORAD to shoot down unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) over the last two weeks.
Further, it said, the action was more routine than escalatory, as Russian forces attempt to penetrate the country’s ADIZ several times a year in an effort to test U.S. responses.
“Since Russia resumed out of area Long Range Aviation activity in 2007, NORAD has seen a yearly average of approximately six to seven intercepts of Russian military aircraft in the ADIZ,” the statement said.
“These numbers have varied each year from as high as 15 to as low as zero.”
The incident follows on the heels of a separate interception of Russian military aircraft by Dutch fighters.
That incident also occurred on Tuesday and resulted from an apparent effort by Russian fighters to approach Polish airspace following an announcement that U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Poland to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Biden will travel to Poland from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22 and meet with President Andrzej Duda, where the two will discuss bilateral cooperation and the NATO effort to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against the Russian onslaught.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the president didn’t have to make a trip around a one-year anniversary of a war that never should have started? Sadly, that’s where we are,” said National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby during a Feb. 10 press conference.
“He wants to make sure that he’s sending that strong message not only of the United States’ resolve, but the international community’s resolve, and to make clear to the Ukrainian people that the United States is going to continue to stand by them going forward.”