Norwegian F-16 jet fighters were scrambled 34 times in 2011 to identify Russian aircraft approaching Norwegian territory. A total of 48 aircraft, mostly strategic bombers, were identified in these missions.
Norwegian F-16 fighter jet identifying a Russian Tu-95 in the airspace outside Northern Norway. Photo: Norwegian Air Force.
- This means that Russian activity last year was about the same as in 2010, says press officer John Espen Lien at the Norwegian Armed Forces’ Joint Head Quarter to Avisa Nordland.
In 2010 Norwegian F-16 fighters were sent out to meet Russian aircraft 36 times, as BarentsObserver reported.
Russian planes identified by Norwegian forces are mainly of the Tupolev-95 (BEAR-H) and Tupolev-160 (BLACKJACK) classes.
From 2006 to 2007 the number of scramblings increased sharply from 13 to 47 and the number of identifications from 14 to 88. The increase came after then President Vladimir Putin in the summer of 2007 said that Russia would increase its international presence.
The Russian strategic bombers that are on missions in the Arctic or outside Northern Norway are based at the Engels Air Force base in central Russia. Flying north towards the Barents Sea is the only route the aircrafts can take to international airspace without violating other European states airspace.