RAMSTEIN, Germany - F-16s and F-35s of the Royal Norwegian Air Force intercepted a large group of Russian bombers and fighters off the north coast of Norway, October 27.
The Russian group consisted of two BlackJack strategic bombers, MiG-31 Foxhounds and SU-24 Fencers fighters and a A-50 Mainstay reconnaissance aircraft. The Russian aircraft did not file flight plans nor did they make contact with civilian air traffic control or send transponder signals, posing a potential risk to other air users.
The Norwegian Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at Bodø with F-16 and Evenes with F-35 reacted to the Russian activity. A Norwegian P-3 Orion was already in the area during routine missions, and helped identify the Russian Mainstay. Allied aircrews conducted a visual identification of the Russian aircraft in accordance with international law and in a safe manner.
The introduction of F-35s into the NATO Air Policing system is a step change for Alliance capabilities
"The F-35s stationed at Evenes are preparing for the takeover the northern QRA mission next year, live intercepts like these in the Finnmark area are just the training the crews need," said Lieutenant Colonel Stine B. Gaasland, Communication Chief of Royal Norwegian Air Force. "The introduction of F-35s into the NATO Air Policing system is a step change for Alliance capabilities.".
Norwegian F-16s operate out of Bodø providing QRA for the north of the NATO Air Policing system. Archive imagery provided by the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
Russian MIG-31 and TU-160 intercepted by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, October 27 off the coast of Finnmark. Photo courtesy of the Royal Norwegian Air force.
Norwegian F-35s will be taking over QRA responsibility for the High North region from January 2022. Archive imagery provided by the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
The two F-35s stationed at Evenes are currently part of an exercise, designed to prepare the 5th Generation fighters to take over the QRA responsibility from the F-16. The handover of the QRA responsibility is planned for January 2022. This was the first live intercept for Norwegian F-35s near their own airspace.