A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)

Norway: “Russian air activity not more than before”

The number of Russian military aircraft saying “privet” to NATO off the coast of Norway is not higher than in the past eight years, Lt. Gen. Morten Haga Lunde – chief of operations at the Norwegian military headquarters (Forsvarets operative hovedkvarter) – says in a recent news release of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

While the nations at the Baltic Sea do report more Russian air activity, out in the Barents Sea and Northern Atlantic it is business as usual, according to the general Haga Lunde. “The situation in the northern area today is normal, similar to recent years despite the fact that there are more tensions between Russia and NATO.”

A RNoAF F-16BM from 338 Squadron levaing Ørland Main Air Station for a training sortie (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A RNoAF F-16BM from 338 Squadron leving Ørland Main Air Station for a training sortie (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

Looking at the numbers. This year the Royal Norwegian Air Force executed 43 scrambles (defensive reaction to intrusions or almost intrusions of NATO airspace) plus 69 identification of Russian airplanes off the Norwegian coast. In 2013 it were 41 scrambles and 58 identifications, in 2012 41 scrambles and 71 identifications. Compared to the statistics of the 1980s today’s situation is quite relaxed, as the RNoAF has 500 to 600 ID-flights on record yearly for that hot period of the so-called Cold War that ended in 1991.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence

A NATO Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS leaving Ørland Main Air Station. As Norway doesn't have a flying radar, command and control plane available, NATO often provides one to defend its northern flank (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A NATO Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS leaving Ørland Main Air Station. As Norway doesn’t have a flying radar, command and control plane available, NATO often provides one to defend its northern flank (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)

The lowest recorded identification flights of the RNoAF was in 1998, when only 3 Russian planes were spotted in international airspace near Norwegian territories. Eyes were fully on Norway last week, when the Norwegian Ministry of Defence released a second video of a gutsy Russian pilot creeping up very close to a Norwegian F-16. The move might have been something awkward, but as the Norwegian high commanding officer concludes, the general Russian air activity in the Norwegian area of responsibility is fairly stable ever since 2007.

Coming in to land, a RNoAF F-16BM with a typical simulated Combat Air Patrol load (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
Coming in to land, a RNoAF F-16BM with a typical simulated Combat Air Patrol load (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)

See also our Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force