One day before U.S. President Barack Obama’s Canadian visit last week, Canadian fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers near Canadian air space, the defense minister said Friday.
“At no time did Russian planes enter Canadian air space, but within 24 hours of the president’s visit here … we did scramble F-18 fighter planes from NORAD in Canada command,” Peter MacKay said in a news conference in Ottawa. The Russian planes were in international waters, about 118 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of Tuktoyuktuk, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. “It was a routine flight over international airspace,” Yevgeniy Khorishko, a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Washington, told CBC news. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is a joint U.S.-Canadian agency in charge of aerospace control for the North American continent. “As has been done on previous occasions, (Canadian pilots) sent very clear signals that are understood, that (the) aircraft was to turn around, turn tail and head back to its own air space, which it did,” MacKay said. The Russian planes were identified as TU-95 Bear aircraft by NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek.