Russian Planes Keep Flying Near Alaska and Stretching the Air Force Thin

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    Russian Planes Keep Flying Near Alaska and Stretching the Air Force Thin

    • Russian air force planes have increased their patrols near U.S. airspace.
    • The flights, by bombers and surveillance planes, have increased sixfold in recent years.
    • The flights don’t actually enter U.S. airspace, but they do require a response by Air Force fighters.

    A rise in Russian military aircraft venturing near North America is straining Air Force crews who must meet them in the air.

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    U.S. Air Force units stationed in Alaska, near America’s frozen border with Russia, say intercepts rose to 60 a year in 2020, up from just 10 in 2015, according to Air Force Times. While the aircraft in Russia’s Aerospace Forces don’t actually come near Alaskan airspace, they do require the Air Force to sortie a number of planes, from F-22 Raptors to tankers, to meet them.

    The Russian flights are typically carried out by Tu-95 “Bear” bombers, Il-38 May maritime patrol aircraft, Il-38N maritime surveillance aircraft, and in September 2020, Sukhoi Su-35E “Flanker-E” twin-engine fighter jets.

    The Air Force monitors the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) as part of Operation Noble Eagle. Since the events of September 11, 2001, Operation Eagle handles all air defense and air sovereignty missions over North American airspace, including responding to aerial hijackings and watching the U.S.’s aerial frontier for possible intrusions.

    alaska adiz
    The Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone includes thousands of miles of international airspace. A foreign aircraft wouldn’t be considered in violation of U.S. airspace unless it flew less than 12 miles from American territory.

    FAA

    The Alaska ADIZ is a buffer zone of thousands of square miles that isn’t sovereign airspace—Russian planes can legally fly there—but entering the zone means a plane could conceivably enter U.S. airspace in a relatively short amount of time.

    Not every Russian plane flying near the Alaska ADIZ prompts a U.S. response, but when the Air Force does respond, it sends F-22 Raptors from the 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). We just don’t know the criteria for such a response. The Raptors are supported by KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling planes and E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control planes.

    Here’s a 2012 video of a 3rd Wing F-22 taking off from JBER:

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    So, what are the Russians doing? Many of the flights are probably just routine training flights, as the Alaska ADIZ is actually quite close to Russia itself. Some flights are likely meant to test the response time of Air Force units in Alaska, while others might be in response to Russian-American relations. The Air Force monitors certain flights and intercepts others, depending on how far the Russian planes fly into the air defense zone.

    If 60 intercepts a year sound like a lot, the Japan Air Self Defense Force has it far worse, scrambling 947 times in fiscal year 2019 to respond to aircraft from China, Russia, South Korea, and possibly North Korea.


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    Published at Fri, 30 Apr 2021 15:51:00 +0000

    Attribution – For more Information here is the Article Post Source: https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a36291898/why-are-russian-military-planes-flying-near-alaska/