North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has released this photograph, taken on Thursday, of an F-15C Eagle from the 12th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, flying next to a Russian Tu-95 Bear Bomber during a "training opportunity" provided by the Russian 137th Air Army.
The following statement was issued by NORAD:
************************* WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - North American Aerospace Defense Command launched three pairs of fighters Thursday evening from the command's Canadian NORAD Region (CANR) and the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR) in response to Russian aircraft that penetrated North America's Air Defense Identification Zone, according to NORAD officials.
"While the Russian air assets at no time violated Canadian or U.S. airspace, integrated air defense assets in and around CANR and ANR were able to detect, intercept and identify a number of the Russian Tu-95 Bear heavy bombers participating in an annual Russian air force exercise near the coast of Alaska and Canada," said Major General Brett Cairns, NORAD director of operations.
"F-15s launched out of ANR intercepted the bombers off the west coast of Alaska," the Major General said.
"CF-18 fighters also launched out of CANR, but did not intercept any of the bombers," said Cairns.
NORAD is a bi-national Canadian and United States organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.
Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, utilizing mutual support arrangements with other commands.
Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.
While this response to the Russian bombers shows how NORAD continues to monitor the air approaches to North America, NORAD's mission also focuses on airspace within North America.
Since September 11, 2001, NORAD has scrambled or diverted more than 2,200 times to execute its aerospace control mission for North America.