Tag Archives: Baltic

War games as usual over the Baltic Sea

While NATO, Sweden and Finland are jointly engaged in large scale military exercises on the Baltic Sea coasts and in the countries neighbouring Russia, it is business as usual in the air above the Northern European waters with Russia sending up bombers and escorts, and the opposing side scrambling fighter jets.

Last week was somewhat special. The stars and stripes were promoted big time by two US Air Force B-52H bombers dropping training sea mines off the coast of Skåne in Southern Sweden. They were escorted by at least four Swedish Air Force Gripen fighter jets. The training mission, with the Buffs flying in from the United Kingdom, was part of the large scale Baltops 2015 exercise (5 – 20 June), that also saw Swedish and US Marines landing on the Scandinavian coast using the USS San Antonio as main floating base. Baltops 2015 also marked the first time the B-52s were on a real operational training mission inside Swedish air space.

The last couple of days saw the more usual suspects. Russian aircraft gave acte de presence in international airspace bordering Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Royal Air Force Typhoons came home with nice pictures of a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound long-distance interceptors. Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes of the Swedish Air Force shadowed a pair of Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers escorted by two MiG-31s twice in 24 hours, as the Russian Air Force package was making a routine flight from the St. Petersburg area over the Baltic Sea towards Kaliningrad.

Baltic Air Policing
NATO planes at Ämari in Estonia and/or Šiauliai in Lithuania and/or Malbork in Poland also scramble to intercept a Ilyushin IL-20 at least on one occasion. The recon/spy plane is a regular for the NATO jets. The more specials of this week were a Iluyshin / Beriev A-50 AWACS and an Antonov AN-26. Currently the Baltic Air Policing mission on the three bases mentioned, is run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and the Belgian Air Component – both each with 4 F-16AM Fighting Falcons – plus the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force – both each with 4 Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon jets.

Saber Strike
Meanwhile NATO forces “attacked” a military airfield, Swidwin Airbase in Poland, as part of the multinational exercise Saber Strike 2015 (8 – 19 June) that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well. The Saber Strike airfield assault that included a paradrop was meant to prep ground and air forces for a possible combined operation of the future.

In an attempt to keep things at bay in that future the US policy makers are now even considering sending half or a whole squadron of F-22A Raptor air-supiority stealth fighters to the other side of the Atlantic, but neither a time schedule or a possible base of operations has been revealed.

Looks like the start of a warm Summer in usually cold Northern Europe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)

AN-140s to Russian Baltic Fleet

The civilian original of the Antonov AN-140-100 (Image © Antonov)
The civilian original of the Antonov AN-140-100 (Image © Antonov)

The Russian naval air forces in the Baltics will soon receive at least two new Ukranian built Antonov AN-140-100 turboprop cargo aircraft, sources from the Western Military District told press agency RIA Novosti.

The aircraft has been built under license by Russian Aviacor. Another six AN-140s will be distributed amongst the other air units of the four Russian fleets, the first already having been delivered in April 2013. Apart from transporting regular cargo, the AN-140 can be equipped with special mission gear for maritime patrol and special operations. Its range with 6 tons of cargo is about 2,000 kilometers (1,080 nautical miles).

The military AN-140-100 derives from the civilian passenger aircraft, of which only about a dozen fly in the Ukraine and Russia. Compared to the first version of the type the -100 has a bigger wingspan, giving it better flying characteristics. The type has been successfully test-flown in landing conditions from minus 55 degrees Celsius to plus 45. The aircraft is certified to operate from the airfield located at 2,500 m (7,500 feet) above sea level.

In the passenger role the AN-140-100 can carry up to 52 people plus crew at a maximum cruising speed of 291 knots (540 kmh) up to almost 23,000 feet (7,600 meters). The arrival of the An-140 is part of a wider build-up of Russian military air, ground and naval forces in the Baltics, meaning NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission will have something extra to do in the future.

Source: RAI Novosti/Antonov