The US Air Force carried out a record number of interceptions and identification of Russian aircraft in 2020 near Alaska
Rise in interceptions
Quoted in March, David A. Krumm, chief of the Eleventh Air Force, affirmed that interceptions of Russian aircraft in the ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) of Alaska in 2020 have reached a level unmatched since the war. Cold. In fact, in one year, more than 60 aircraft of all types (combat, Patmar, ISR) were checked by the American fighter. Also, it would no longer be a question of testing the reactivity of the American forces, but of testing the US Air Force’s “surge” potential. Indeed, the Russian aircraft now remain several hours in the ADIZ to exhaust the hunters, which requires many supplies. The separation of Russian aircraft after their interception is also cited, forcing the US Air Force to send other fighters to follow them individually. If no interception has given rise to an incident, these actions put a strain on the American pilots. Nevertheless, it seems that Russian shares in Alaska have declined since the start of the year, suggesting a short truce …
This renewed air activity is combined with the rise of the Russian armed forces in the Arctic. Indeed, according to several reports, Russia would have remilitarized some fifty abandoned bases dating from the Soviet era, enough to ensure a reinforced presence in this coveted area. In response, the US Air Force is reportedly conducting more and more reconnaissance flights near sensitive Russian military sites.
American order of battle
The US Air Force is present in Alaska with the Eleventh Air Force (11AF) based at Elmendorf AFB. Its main units are the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf which has in particular 54 F-22s (highest concentration of 5th generation aircraft in the world), and the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson AFB with its F-16s and recently its F -35A (54 expected). These hunting devices have for missions the surveillance and the protection of the sky of the 49th American state. In a conflict scenario, they would also target the destruction of enemy air defenses and ground support. These elements are reinforced by the KC-135R of the 168th Air Refueling Wing based at Eielson ADF. The 176th Wing located at Elmendorf AFB completes the aerial device with C-17, HH-60G and HC-130. The radar grid of this vast territory is operated by the 611th Air Support Group which has 15 fixed stations and three relay stations managed in partnership with NORAD (Long Range Radar Site / Short Range Radar Site).