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Press Releases
Press Release | Sept. 19, 2020

NORAD positively identifies Russian Tu-160 bombers and Su-35 fighters entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone

NORAD Public Affairs


North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptors and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, supported by KC-135 air refuelers, positively identified two Tu-160 bombers and two Su-35 fighter aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) three times last night.

Although the Russian aircraft loitered in the ADIZ for approximately four hours total over the three incursions and came within 50 nautical miles of Alaska’s Nunavik Island, they remained in international airspace and at no time entered United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.

“The re-emergence of strategic competition between nations, and competitors who overtly challenge the free and open international order, characterizes our complex global security environment,” said General Glen D. VanHerck, Commander NORAD. “As competitors increase their reach, range and capability, our continental defense operations must be ready to detect, deter and defeat against threats in all domains.”

NORAD employs a layered defense network of radars, satellites, and fighter and early warning aircraft to identify aircraft and determine the appropriate response. The identification and monitoring of aircraft entering a U.S. or Canadian ADIZ demonstrates how NORAD executes its aerospace warning and aerospace control missions for the United States and Canada.

Operation NOBLE EAGLE is the name given to all air sovereignty and air defense missions in North America. NORAD is a binational command focused on the defense of
both the U.S. and Canada, the response to potential aerospace threats does not distinguish between the two nations, and draws on forces from both countries.