Air Force intercepts record number of Russian planes, Alaskan-based lieutenant general says

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The US Air Force has been “strained” by a growing number of Russian planes it must intercept off the coast of North America.

Lt. Gen. David Krumm spoke candidly at an Air Force Association online forum Wednesday, citing a record number of interceptions by American fighters near Alaska.

“We have certainly seen an increase in Russian activity,” Krumm said. “We intercepted over 60 planes last year … We are monitoring more than that.”

An F-22 Raptor from the North American Aerospace Defense Command flies next to a Russian Tu-95 bomber during an interception in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on June 16, 2020.
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An F-22 Raptor from the North American Aerospace Defense Command flies next to a Russian Tu-95 bomber during an interception in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on June 16, 2020.

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This would mark the most interactions in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone – which stretches 200 nautical miles in international airspace – since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to a report by the Air Force Times.

An F-22 Raptor from the North American Aerospace Defense Command flies next to a Russian Tu-95 bomber during an interception in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on June 16, 2020.

An F-22 Raptor from the North American Aerospace Defense Command flies next to a Russian Tu-95 bomber during an interception in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on June 16, 2020.

Krumm is the leader of the Alaska branch of North American Command, the Alaska region of NORAD, and the 11th Air Force under the Pacific Air Force, giving him an unparalleled understanding of the situation.

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“Although there is pressure on our units, I will tell you that they are managing it very, very efficiently,” Krumm added.

The Air Force is meeting all Russian units with F-22s, but Krumm has indicated that the branch may be open to the use of other types of jets. Russia has reportedly upgraded its fleets of bombers and other long-range aircraft, forcing the US Department of Defense to consider options for upgrading its infrastructure.

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Different satellites, radars and other sensors will be tested during an upcoming Northern Edge exercise in May, with new fighters like the F-15EX Eagle II.

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