NORAD tracks Russian aircraft entering Alaska defense zone

Two Russian surveillance aircraft entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on separate occasions this week.

The Air Defense Identification Zone is a self-declared buffer outside the United States’ airspace. While foreign planes can legally fly there, entering the zone is considered an act of aggression, and the U.S. monitors aircraft in the area.

The Alaskan NORAD Region said in a statement Tuesday that the aircraft had entered Alaska’s air defense zone twice in the previous two days. The two Russian aircraft did not enter U.S. or Canadian sovereign airspace, according to NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Russian aircraft flying in Alaska’s air defense zone is fairly routine, occurring a few times each year — for example, in January, March and October 2021, as tracked by NORAD.

This week’s flights come amid tension between Russia and the U.S. that has mounted since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

NORAD tracks and identifies aircraft in the defense zone with a “layered” network of satellites, ground-based radar, airborne radar and fighter aircraft.

“We remain ready to employ a number of response options in defense of North America and Arctic sovereignty,” the Alaskan NORAD Region said.

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at