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U.S. fighter jets intercept two Russian bombers near Alaska

U.S. taking part in Arctic Circle war games
U.S. sends Russia a message with Arctic Circle war games 02:13

U.S. F-16 warplanes intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace near Alaska on Tuesday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said. The Tu-95 bombers were intercepted after "entering and operating within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone," NORAD said in a statement.

The Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, is a perimeter in which air traffic is monitored beyond the border of national airspace to provide additional reaction time in case of hostile actions.

While tensions are high between the United States and Russia over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, NORAD said the bombers were not seen as a threat.

"NORAD tracks and positively identifies foreign military aircraft that enter the ADIZ," and "routinely monitors foreign aircraft movements and as necessary, escorts them from the ADIZ," the statement said.

Russia typically holds annual nuclear exercises around this time of year, though it was unclear if the presence of the bombers was related to the drills.

Interceptions of Russian aircraft in the area — which is close to Russia's far eastern border — are relatively frequent.

Last month, NORAD said it detected two Russian maritime patrol aircraft in the ADIZ.

NORAD says it uses "a layered defense network" of satellites, ground-based and airborne radars and fighter jets to track and identify aircraft.

According to its website, the Alaskan NORAD Region can detect "what goes on in and near North American airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

"Aerospace control requires capabilities to intercept, shadow, escort, divert, direct landings, and if necessary, use force up to and including the destruction of airborne objects," the command says.

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