American fighter planes flew over Hawaii twice earlier this month as a precaution against Russian bombers practising in the area, According to ABC News.
F-22 Raptors were deployed out on patrol from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu on June 13 and 18 due to a large-scale Russian military drill off the coast of Hawaii, according to a US defence official.
While numerous media accounts claimed that American aeroplanes “scrambled” to respond to Russian bombers approaching U.S. territorial territory, the truth appears to have been less urgent than the headlines suggested. According to a US defence official, the Russian aircraft flew no closer than 150 miles from Hawaii’s shore.
The Russian bombers never even entered the air defence identification zone (ADIZ), an area in international airspace that serves as a buffer outside a country’s territorial airspace to give it time to intercept and vet any aircraft before it reaches sovereign territory, according to a second US defence official. As a result, the F-22s were sent airborne mostly as a precaution in case the Russian warplanes passed into the ADIZ, which would have served as a backstop against their breaching US territorial territory.
In response to separate questions regarding the air patrols earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the US Armed Forces’ Indo-Pacific Command gave ABC News with identical responses.
“The Pacific Air Forces conduct air operations in the area surrounding Hawaii on a regular basis. Due to operational security concerns, we do not reveal the tactics, techniques, or procedures employed by US Air Force aircraft” According to the spokesman.
“The United States Air Force is committed to defending the country and guaranteeing a free and open Indo-Pacific for all nations. We will continue to fly in international airspace, as required by international law, with appropriate respect for the safety of all boats and aeroplanes.”
In recent years, the US has caught many Russian aircraft flying within the ADIZ, notably off the coast of Alaska. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercepted two groups of Russian bombers approaching Alaska’s ADIZ just over a year ago, with the first formation flying within 20 nautical miles of Alaskan coastlines — just 8 nautical miles from U.S. territorial territory.
The events occurred earlier this month, while US President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for a high-stakes summit at what both leaders believe is a “low moment” in their countries’ relations. Both leaders described their June 16 meeting as good after a tumultuous photo session and approximately three-and-a-half hours of heated negotiations.
However, while Biden stated that he voiced significant concerns and warned of the repercussions, he did not claim that he persuaded Putin to change his ways, and the Russian president denied any culpability for hacking or anything else.
Biden told reporters during his solo news conference following the meeting, “I did what I came to do.”