Mig-31 “uncomfortably close” to Norwegian Orion

Photo Manipulation of a Norwegian Orion aircraft and a Russian Mig-31 fighter jet.

The maritime surveillance aircraft was flying a routine mission over the Barents Sea when the Russian fighter jet came from behind so fast and close it was in danger of a mid-air collision.


The incident happened over the Barents Sea on April 10. The crew on the Orion plane from the Royal Norwegian Air Force initially observed the Mig-31 twice shadowing them at a safe distance. Shortly afterwards, the Russian jet fighter came back from behind of the Orion.

“We do not have the exact distance, but it was “uncomfortably close,” says Norwegian military spokesman John Espen Lien to BarentsObserver.

“We must also take into consideration that such close encounter greatly limits the maneuverability of the aircraft,” Lien explains.

The Norwegian military has not yet discussed the incident with their Russian counterpart. “This sort of cases is discussed at an operational level, rather than on a higher level. It is not yet done,” says Lien.

“It is a common goal for Norwegian and Russian authorities that such incidents which can lead to unsafe situations should be avoided. This is regulated by international agreements,” says John Espen Lien and underlines that the case will be discussed at a suitable time during a routine meeting.

The incident in the airspace over the Barents Sea was first reported by Andøyposten, the local newspaper at Andøya where the Norwegian Orion aircrafts are based, and later described in the The Aviationist, a weblog covering military and civil aviation  

This week and next, Norwegian and Russian military forces have a joint-naval drill in the Barents- and Norwegain Seas. The exercise, named POMOR-2012, started from the Russian Northern Fleet’s main base in Severomorsk on Tuesday and will end in Bodø on May 17. Both naval vessels and aircrafts participate in the exercise.