“Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day.”
That was the message two Russian bombers delivered while flying within tens of miles of the California coast this month to the U.S. fighter jets that intercepted them, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The greeting may have been unusual, but the close encounter was not. Russian military planes have been encountered near U.S. airspace a number of times before.
On June 4, 2014, U.S. fighter jets intercepted Russian bombers off Alaska and California following a string of aerial encounters over the Pacific.
According to U.S. defense officials, four long-range Russian Tu-95 Bear-H bombers, accompanied by an aerial refueling tanker, flew into the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone, an area extending 200 miles from the North American coast, off Alaska, where they were intercepted by U.S. F-22 fighter jets.