Canadian, U.S. fighter jets intercept Russian aircraft off Alaskan coast

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OTTAWA — Military authorities say U.S. and Canadian fighter jets scrambled Monday to intercept two Russian reconnaissance planes travelling near the North American coast.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command says the two Russian Tu-142 Bear aircraft remained in international airspace north of Alaska for about four hours before departing.

NORAD says the Russians approached within 50 nautical miles, or 92 kilometres, of the Alaskan coast and entered a warning zone, but did not enter U.S. or Canadian airspace.

NORAD says Canadian CF-18s and American F-22 fighter jets “escorted” them for the duration with support from an air-to-air refueller.

The appearance of Russian aircraft off North America’s coast comes less than a week after Canadian military officials, including chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, called Russia the greatest threat to North America.

The federal government is preparing to launch a major review of North America’s defences, with an eye to upgrading them in the coming years.