Working up to Cold Response 2014 this RNoAF F-16AM with serial 687 breaks in preparation for landing at Ørland Airbase after a counter-air training mission over the Norwegian Sea on 4 March 2014 (Image © Morten Hanche / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)

Norway: increase in Alpha Scrambles

Despite it is more or less business as usual for a decade for the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the number of Alpha Scrambles has gone up a bit last year.

In 2006 the number of times RNoAF F-16s rushed into the air after a NATO alert was at a very very low of 13, and than spiked to 47 in 2007. Since then things eased down to 32, went up to 41 in 2012 and 2013 and was on 49 in 2014.

The number of identifications has been going up and down during the entire same period from as low as 14 to as high as 87 and 88 in 2007. Last year 74 “foreign” aircraft were identified by the Norwegian Vipers.

Escorting fighters
“Fewer identifications and scrambles in the period 2008 to 2012 was due to a changed base structure in Russia,” an official Norwegian Defence report released on 12 January 2015 states. “Escorting fighters that previously followed bombers and tankers to the north of the Norwegian region of Finnmark often turned early, sometimes before they could be identified. That has an impact on the statistics. Those also show that the situation is not constant, but varies.”

A four-pack of Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons passing ground positions during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A four-pack of Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons passing ground positions during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
Year scrambles​ ​Identifications
2006 13 ​14
2007 47 ​88
​2008 ​32 ​87
​2009 ​38 ​77
​2010 36​ ​37
​2011 34​ ​48
​2012 41​ ​71
​2013 ​41 ​58
​2014 49​ ​74

But according to the statistics the number of QRA flights and identifications is a bleak shadow of what it used to be.

“In the mid-1980s we had 500 to 600 identifications, every year”, the report reads, “in 1999 and 2000 it were an average of four. The first decade of 2000 it increased to 10 to 15 yearly.”

The released numbers are official, but the Norwegian Ministry of Defence doesn’t want to give more insight in the “foreign” air activity in order to not give away which sensor and analysis capacity Europe’s most northern NATO member has.

Source: Forsvaret

Working up to Cold Response 2014 this RNoAF F-16AM with serial 687 breaks in preparation for landing at Ørland Airbase after a counter-air training mission over the Norwegian Sea on 4 March 2014 (Image © Morten Hanche / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
Working up to Cold Response 2014 this RNoAF F-16AM with serial 687 breaks in preparation for landing at Ørland Airbase after a counter-air training mission over the Norwegian Sea on 4 March 2014 (Image © Morten Hanche / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)