WASHINGTON

The US intercepted three groups of Russian aircraft off the Alaskan coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced Friday.

The US F-22 stealth jet fighters supported by KC-135 air refuelers intercepted the groups of Tupolev Tu-142 prop planes, the joint US-Canadian command said in a statement.

The Russian aircraft had “loitered” in the area for roughly five hours and had come to within 50 nautical miles of Alaska, but remain in international airspace. The Russian planes did not enter the US or Canadian airspace, NORAD said.

“Our northern approaches have had an increase in foreign military activity as our competitors continue to expand their military presence and probe our defenses,” commander Gen. Glen VanHerck said.

“This year, we’ve conducted more than a dozen intercepts, the most in recent years. The importance of our continued efforts to project air defense operations in and through the north has never been more apparent.”

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