US intercepts 2 Russian bombers off Alaska coast

PHOTO:A Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber on a cruise missile attack mission on Islamic State and al-Qaida targets in Syria, November 2016.PlayRussian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP Photo
WATCH US intercepts 2 Russian bombers off Alaska coast

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed Tuesday that two Russian TU-95 bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska on Monday evening.

According to a U.S. official, the intercept occurred 100 nautical miles south of Kodiak Island. The Russian aircraft were in international airspace throughout the encounter as American airspace extends 12 nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline.

However, NORAD confirmed to ABC News that the Russian planes were in the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which stretches 200 miles out from shore. An Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace that is monitored in the interest of national security where aircraft are required to identify themselves.

Two F-22 fighter jets and one E-3 Sentry reconnaissance plane from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska intercepted the Russian bombers for a short time, then flew alongside the bombers as they turned away from the ADIZ, the official said.

PHOTO: A Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber on a cruise missile attack mission on Islamic State and al-Qaida targets in Syria, November 2016.Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP Photo
A Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber on a cruise missile attack mission on Islamic State and al-Qaida targets in Syria, November 2016.

This is the first time that Russian aircraft have approached North America in some time. NORAD has no records of intercepts of Russian aircraft in all of 2016, and the previous intercept dates all the way back to the summer of 2015.