The US military revealed it had detected two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska on Monday night.
Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said a pair of F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear jets within two hours of the sighting.
He claims the intercept, carried out 100 miles southwest of Kodiak Island, was "safe and professional."
The TU-95 Russian bombers were spotted near Alaska
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, head of both the Alaskan Command and the Alaska NORAD Region, said: "I can't go into all of the details on how we detected them, but we did detect them.
“We were tracking them basically paralleling the Aleutian Islands roughly 100 miles to the south."
And he revealed the Bear jets didn’t appear to have any external signs of weaponry, but added the pilots had no verbal contact.
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I have the same question you do as to the why part. I can't answer that — only the Russians can answer that
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach
Lt Gen Wilsbach added: "There is a procedure where we can talk to them, but generally we don't unless it's some sort of dangerous situation.
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“They waved at one another, but other than that there was no communication."
The American jets escorted the Russian bombers for 12 minutes before the TU-95s flew back to eastern Russia.
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North American Aerospace Defence Command monitors air approaches to North America and defends the airspace.
Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, bombers were routinely sent to Alaska for brief fly overs.
But there had not been any similar Russian flights since July 4, 2015, when Bear bombers were intercepted after approaching Alaska and California.
The Alaskan Command said it hadn't seen any reports of Monday's flight in Russian media or any indication of the reason the bombers were sent.
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Lt Gen Wilsbach added: “I have the same question you do as to the why part.
“I can't answer that — only the Russians can answer that."
The fly over comes just seven days after US President Donald Trump claimed relations with Russia “may be at an all time low”.
He even went so far as to claim NATO, a body he has previously been heavily critical of, was no longer “obsolete” thanks to the emerging new threat from Mr Putin.
Speaking at a White House briefing following a two-hour meeting in Moscow between his secretary of state Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Mr Trump said: “We’re not getting along with Russia at all.”