Significantly increased Russian military air activity near Alaska
WASHINGTON, (BM) – Suppose Moscow regularly denounces NATO’s air activity in the Baltic region and in that of the Black Sea [it would have increased by 30% in 2020, according to the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergey Shoygu]. In that case, Russian military aviation is not left out.
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Thus, during a forum organized by the Air Force Association, General David Krumm said he saw a significant increase in the activity of the Russian military aviation in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, opex360 reports. The point that it reached a level that Washington had not seen since the fall of the USSR, he also said. General David Krumm, head of the 11th Air Force and Alaska Command [ALCOM].
According to figures given by General Krumm, in 2020, 60 interceptions of Russian aircraft [strategic bombers and maritime patrol aircraft Tu-142 in particular] were carried out by the US Air Force, against ten per year, on average, in recent years.
In March, during a hearing in Congress, General Glen VanHerck also underlined the increase in l Russian air activity in its area of responsibility, insisting that interceptions were now “more complex” than in the past. He is the head of United States Northern Command and NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command].
One of these difficulties is that Russian bombers and other maritime patrol planes can stay for several hours in the Alaskan ADIZ, which, together with the number of missions they carry out there, puts pressure on them. US Air Force units, especially those based in Elmendorf, are equipped with F-22A Raptors.
“Our units are handling this pressure very effectively,” General Krumm told the Air Force Association. “The F-22 is the best air superiority aircraft we have,” he continued. However, he admitted, these interceptions come at a “certain cost.”
That the Russian air forces have increased their activities in the vicinity of Alaska is indeed not trivial: it allows them to use the potential of the F-22A Raptors, which the US Air Force seeks to preserve, being given that it only has 123 copies on the front line [29 others assigned to the transformation of pilots, 16 used for testing and 17 have been placed in reserve to compensate for any losses, editor’s note]. What is more, he must take into account availability concerns.
Even if it has a second base in Alaska, with Eielson Air Force Base, which houses F-16s that can flawlessly perform air policing missions, the US Air Force is looking for solutions to refocus its F-22A Raptors on “more complex” tasks. These solutions will also focus on Exercise Nothern Edge, which, due to begin on May 3, will involve the new F-15EX Eagle II for the first time.
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