On Feb. 13, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercepted four Russian military aircraft that had entered Alaska’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Two F-16 fighters and five other supporting aircraft, including two F-35s, responded to the incursion. The action was more routine than escalatory, as Russian forces attempt to penetrate the country’s ADIZ several times a year to test U.S. responses. According to NORAD, there is an average of six to seven intercepts of Russian military aircraft in the ADIZ each year, ranging from as high as 15 to as low as zero.
This incident follows a separate interception of Russian military aircraft by Dutch fighters on the same day. This was apparently in response to an announcement that U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Poland to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. From Feb. 20 to Feb. 22, Biden will meet with President Andrzej Duda to discuss bilateral cooperation and the NATO effort to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, noted that it would be great if the president did not have to make the trip, but it is necessary to send a strong message of the United States’ and international community’s resolve to stand by Ukraine.