MOSCOW --- US Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters tracked Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95MS (NATO reporting name: Bear-H) strategic bombers over the neutral waters off Alaska, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
"Two Tu-95MS strategic bombers from Ukrainka AFB in the Amur Region have completed a scheduled patrolling sortie. Their route ran via the neutral waters in the Pacific along the Aleutians," the military says in a news release. "The aircraft have covered around 5,000 km at a speed of 850 km/h and at an altitude of 10,000 m. Their sortie has exceeded 7 hours. USAF F-22 fighters had tracked them for 27 min. over the international waters in the vicinity of Alaska."
The Russian Defense Ministry reminded that RusAF Long-Range Aviation aircraft flew over the neutral waters in the Arctic, Atlantic, Black Sea and pacific on a regular basis under an official schedule.
The RusAF has always flown in compliance with the international rules and have not intruded into other countries’ airspace, the military stressed.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, NORAD Chief of Media Relations John Cornelio noted the professionalism of the Russian crews following the passage of the two Tu-95MS strategic bombers off the Alaskan coast.
Earlier, the Pentagon said that two USAF F-22 fifth-generation fighters had been scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers near Alaska. Commenting on the news, Cornelio said: "Although we use the term ‘intercept’, it is more akin to visual identification of aircraft. When an unidentified aircraft enters our airspace, we come to take a look," he said.
According to Cornelio, the pilots of the US fighters and Russian bombers did not communicate and there were no incidents. The NORAD press officer said Russian aircraft had resumed the flights of the kind in 2007.
"They fly very professionally, and we too," Cornelio said.
The F-22 Raptor fifth-generation fighter was co-developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and entered USAF service in 2005. Technologies making the plane hard to detect by radar were used as part of the aircraft. The F-22 took its baptism of fire in a September 2014 air operation against the Russia-banned Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. The Raptor is designed for both air superiority and ground attack with the use of smart weapons. According to the Military Balance almanac, there have been 159 F-22s in the USAF’s inventory in 2017.
The Tu-95MS strategic bomber is designed to attack enemy targets with cruise missiles of the Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) family. The bomber is 49.13 m long with the 50.4-m wingspan. It has a maximum speed of 830 km/h and a ceiling of 10,500 m. Four NK-12MP engines power the Tu-95MS. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 185 tons. According to the Military Balance, the RusAF operates a fleet of 60 Tu-95MS in various versions.