Air Force F-15s intercepted two Russian Bear G-series bombers off western Alaska early Friday, an Air Force spokeswoman said.
"It's anyone's guess why they were in the area," said Capt. Monica Aloisio, a spokeswoman for the 11th Air Force at Elmendorf Air Force Base."We're calling them Russian although it's believed they were launched from a base in the Ukraine."
The intercept was made at 2:21 a.m., 538 miles west of Cold Bay, the Air Force said. The F-15s steered the bombers away from the United States. The bombers never penetrated U.S. air space, the Air Force said.
The "G" series Bears are capable of carrying cruise missiles for use against land and sea targets, the Air Force said.
Such intercepts, while routine, have become less common since the breakup of the Soviet Union, said Cmdr. Chuck Connor, a spokesman at the North American Aerospace Defense Command's headquarters in Colorado Springs. He said intercepts near Alaska fell from 46 in 1988 to 21 in 1991.