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Two F-22s assigned to JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, intercepted a pair of Russian bombers accompanied by a pair of fighter jets west of mainland Alaska on Tuesday night, the Pentagon said. Air Force photo by SrA. Curt Beach.

​Two F-22s assigned to JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, intercepted two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers accompanied by two Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets west of mainland Alaska around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Pentagon said.

The Russian aircraft stayed in international airspace, entering neither US nor Canadian airspace in the incident.

“The homeland is no longer a sanctuary and the ability to deter and defeat threats to our citizens, vital infrastructure, and national institutions starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching US and Canadian airspace,” NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said.

O’Shaughnessy, speaking during a Thursday briefing at the Pentagon, said the F-22s launched with an E-3 Sentry AWACS to intercept the bomber.

While the Russian flight was not directly connected with the large Vostok exercise in the east of the country, it is “very much” related to Russia’s focus on readiness.

The intercept happened as US Northern Command is preparing for Hurricane Florence, and shows that the US military is “maintaining our ability to respond” to threats while the possible natural disaster develops, O’Shaughnessy said.