"Nothing to see here," was US military officials' reaction to an incident this week involving Russia off the coast of Alaska—even though the Air Force sent two F-22 fighter jets and an early-warning plane to address the situation. A spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command tells the New York Times that two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers zipped within 100 miles of Kodiak Island Monday evening, within a few hundred miles of the airspace around the US and Canada known as the Air Defense Identification Zone. Fox News first reported on the incident after US officials confirmed that the bombers, which are said to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, flew about 280 miles southwest of Elmendorf Air Force Base, causing the US to scramble the F-22s and an E-3 early-warning plane to intercept them.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, head of Alaska's NORAD region, tells the Alaska Dispatch News Monday's incident, from detection to interception, took place over about two hours, between 6pm and 8pm. He noted there was no communication between the US and Russian pilots during the "extremely proficient" maneuvers, though they "waved at one other." But even though GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger told Wolf Blitzer on CNN the Russians were "trying to show their teeth," US military officials said the incident was "nothing out of the ordinary" and "not dissimilar from what we've seen in the past with respect to Russian long-range aviation." Fox notes that July 4, 2015, was the last time Russian bombers hovered so close to the US, when two bombers flew near Alaska and California, coming within 40 miles of Mendocino. (Vladimir Putin won't be meeting with Rex Tillerson.)