Amazingly close this Su-27 comes to the Swedish Air Force S 102B Korpen, imaged released by the Swedish Signal Intelligence Authority (Image © FRA)

Scandinavia joins NATO over Estonia; Russian ‘bodycheck’

Amazingly close this Su-27 comes to the Swedish Air Force S 102B Korpen, imaged released by the Swedish Signal Intelligence Authority (Image © FRA)
Amazingly close this Su-27 comes to the Swedish Air Force S 102B Korpen on 16 July 2014, imaged released by the Swedish defence signal intelligence organisation (Image © FRA)

For the first time in history Swedish fighter jets touched down on Estonian ground on 2 October 2014. Together with Finnish jets the two large Scandinavian countries started a series of air combat training with the NATO air forces of Estland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany. Base of operations for it all: Ämari Airbase in Estonia, which until February this year was not taken much seriously. That has all changed after Russia sent military forces into the Crimean Peninsula and Eastern Ukraine.

During the exercise the participating countries will train on intercepting other aircraft. A trick that not only NATO, Sweden and Finland, but also Russia is doing a lot these days. A Flygvapnet S 102B Korpen (Swedish Air Force Electronic Signals gathering version of the Gulfstream IVS) was almost body checked recently in international airspace over the Baltic Sea by a heavily armed Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter launched from Kaliningrad. This Russian enclave is squeezed between Lithuania and Poland. The news and photos taken by the Swedish signal intelligence organisation personnel on board the S 102B was first published by Swedish quality newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Thursday 1 October 2014.

Finnish and Canadian Hornets at the flightline of Ämari in Estonia (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
Finnish and Canadian Hornets at the flightline of Ämari in Estonia (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)

Officially the training from Ämari is more peaceful and aimed at intercepting an aircraft with which radio contact has been lost. Part of the scenario is that the four Swedish JAS 39C Gripen fighters and at least a pair of Finnish F-18s make the first interception and then transfer the responsibility to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP). During the exercise the BAP is provided by a pair of Portuguese Air Force F-16s, a pair of Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188s and up to four German Air Force EF2000s. A single Estonian L-410 transport aircraft is the “catch” during the exercise, which has given its crew excellent photo opportunities of the intercepting fighter aircraft.

The Luftwaffe Eurofighters are temporarily based in Estonia for the BAP mission, while the RCAF Hornets and Força Aérea Portuguesa Fighting Falcons flew over from their BAP base in Lithuania for the duration of the exercise. All fighters, including the Swedish Gripens return to their forward operation bases or homebases after the day’s exercise to join the action again the next day. For the Swedes that means RTB Ronneby, near the main naval base of Karlskrona in the southeast of the country.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

Check all our reports on the Baltic Air Policing Mission

Swedish Gripens, Portuguese F-16s and Canadian Hornets on the ground at Ämari (Image © Kent Löving / Försvarsmakten)
Swedish Gripens, Portuguese F-16s and Canadian Hornets on the ground at Ämari
(Image © Kent Löving / Försvarsmakten)
A Finnish Air Foce F-18C over the vastness of the Baltic sea coast (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A Finnish Air Foce F-18C over the vastness of the Baltic sea coast (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A German Air Force EF2000 photographed from an Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A German Air Force EF2000 photographed from an Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
The skies over Estonia seen from the Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
The skies over Estonia seen from the Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A Finnish Air Force F-18A photographed from the L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A Finnish Air Force F-18C photographed from the L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
The Estonian L-410 on the ground at Ämari (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
The Estonian L-410 on the ground at Ämari (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
Close up of a German Air Force EF2000 seen from the Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
Close up of a German Air Force EF2000 seen from the Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)