Friday, February 27, 2009
Canadian fighter jets scrambled to intercept a Russian plane approaching Canadian airspace shortly before U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ottawa, the defence minister said Friday.
Peter MacKay said he wasn’t accusing Russia of deliberately timing the flight to coincide with the visit — when Canadian security was focused in Ottawa — but he did call it a “strong coincidence.”
“It was a strong coincidence which we met with … CF-18 fighter planes and world-class pilots that know their business,” said MacKay.
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“[The pilots] sent a strong signal they should back off and stay out of our airspace.”
MacKay confirmed the incident at a news conference Friday in Ottawa with the chief of the defence staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, and the commander of NORAD, Gen. Gene Renuart.
The CF-18s took off from Cold Lake, Alta., on Feb. 16 after North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) detected the Russian Bear long-range bomber headed for Canadian airspace. The aircraft never did enter North American airspace.
This article was posted: Friday, February 27, 2009 at 11:06 am