Norwegian military unruffled by Russian planes

Norwegian-Russian air relations remain in a “business as usual state” despite sightings of warplanes

Photo: Norwegian Army / Wikimedia Commons The Norwegian Army isn’t concerned about Russian planes near their airspace—though it’s possible they’re slightly more concerned than this.

Photo: Norwegian Army / Wikimedia Commons
The Norwegian Army isn’t concerned about Russian planes near their airspace—though it’s possible they’re slightly more concerned than this.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

Norwegian-Russian air relations remain in a “business as usual state” on a general level, a military spokesperson says about warplane sightings.

Officials recently announced that two Norwegian F-16 fighter jets identified Russian aircraft flying close to Norwegian air territory. They were over the Norwegian and North Seas, with both incidents happening within three days of each other.

Four Tu-95 strategic bombers accompanied by Il-78 tankers were spotted flying from Russia’s Kola Peninsula and out over the Barents Sea, Norwegian broadcaster TV2 reported.

Publication Barents Observer wrote that the incident two days earlier saw the aircraft flying southbound along Norway’s northern coast.

Both sightings identified the same aircraft types in airspace close to Norway’s borders. They were not violating Norwegian airspace, Norway Ministry of Defense officials told The Foreigner on Friday, November 7.

The events were no different from how they have been for the last few years on a general level, according to the military, with the number of scrambles and IDs the same since 2006.

Moreover, “the planes were flying in international airspace, so there was no conflict,” said press spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Moen. “We’re familiar with their strategies.”

NATO radars also tracked the aircraft. “These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” according to a statement released.

“What is significant is that across history, most of these incursions have been very small groups of airplanes, sometimes singletons or at most two aircraft,” U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said during a Pentagon briefing.

“What you saw this past week was a larger, more complex formation of aircraft carrying out a little deeper—and I would say a little bit more provocative—flight path,” the general added.

The Norwegian military has compiled a list of scrambles and IDs for the 2006-14 period (through October 31).

Compared with recent years, there was a large increase between 2006 and 2007, with scrambles and IDs up 260 percent and 530 percent, respectively. 2007-08 saw roughly the same levels.

“The number of IDs during the 1980s was approximately 500–600 per year. This was drastically reduced during the 1990s and early 2000s,” the military said.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Nov. 14, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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