Military Aviation


The F-22s intercepted the Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber about 100 miles southwest of Kodiak

As reported by Alaska Dispatch News, on the evening of Apr. 17, 2017 two F-22s were scrambled from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) to intercept a Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber that was approaching the coast of Alaska.

The interception of the bomber took place over the course of about two hours from 6 to 8 p.m., said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, head of both the Alaskan Command and the Alaska NORAD Region. “We were tracking them basically paralleling the Aleutian Islands roughly 100 miles to the south,” he explained.

In response, two F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, supported by an E-3 from Elmendorf and a KC-135 from Eielson Air Force Base, were scrambled from JBER.

The fighters intercepted the Bear about 100 miles southwest of Kodiak, told Wilsbach. Noteworthy the bomber was unarmed and no verbal contact took place between the Bear and fighters crews.

“There is a procedure where we can talk to them, but generally we don’t unless it’s some sort of dangerous situation,” Wilsbach said. “They waved at one another, but other than that there was no communication.”

Both the American and Russian aircraft were flying “in accordance with international airspace and international law,” Wilsbach said.

According to Wilsbach this kind of incident is an indicator of the value of Northern Edge exercise set for this summer in the Gulf of Alaska: in fact the drill includes simulated intercepts similar to the one that has involved the Bear.

“The response that our crews executed last night was extremely proficient,” Wilsbach said. “It’s not an easy thing to do: to detect an incursion and launch a response, and get all the pieces in the right places and get your aircraft back safely.”

Although such intercepts have taken place in the past, this is the first time such kind of intercept took place since President Donald Trump took office.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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