Norwegian F-35s identify Russian military planes for the first time

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Two F-35 fighter jets took off from Ørland airport near Trondheim last Saturday and identified two Russian military jets, a MiG-31 fighter jet and a Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance plane, near the Norwegian airspace.

Russian military planes were first detected by the air defense control station in Sørreisa, carrying out the check on behalf of NATO, according to the Norwegian armed forces.

First identification for the F-35

Usually, NATO-commanded F-16 fighter jets climb on their wings from Bodø Air Base to identify and / or eliminate unidentified aircraft flying close to Norwegian airspace, so-called QRA missions.

This time, the F-16s first climbed to identify the planes, then the two F-35s resumed the mission as the Russian planes continued south. British military planes then followed Russian planes further south, until the Norwegian F-35s and F-16s again took over, as the Russians headed north.

The two Russian planes did not enter Norwegian airspace, but remained in international airspace.

– The armed forces yesterday established enhanced preparation of the F-35s from Ørland air base to increase our ability to assert our sovereignty. F-35s taking off from NATO-commanded Ørland Air Base also regularly identified Russian planes in international airspace on Saturday morning, said Major General Tonje Skinnarland, chief of the Army of the United Nations. ‘air, in the article.

More credentials

According to Norwegian defense statistics, the number of jams for Norwegian QRA missions increased from 20 in 2016 to 55 in 2018. During the same period, the number of unknown aircraft identifications increased from 38 to 100.

Sergeant Commandant Elisabeth Eikeland, spokesperson for Joint Operations Headquarters. Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

“Such flights are aimed exactly at identifying planes flying in international airspace close to ours. The identifications were Russian, ”said Sargent Commander Elisabeth Eikeland, spokesperson for the Joint Operative Headquarters.

“The evolution of the security policy situation has led to an increase in the number of thefts to be identified. Our analysis of the 2018 increase is that it was the result of Russian activity related to NATO’s Exercise Trident Juncture, ”adds Eikeland.

As of March 9, 2020, there have been eight scrambles and 20 identifications in 2020.

“For us, the number of aircraft identified is not the most important thing, but rather understanding the situation of these flights,” concludes Eikeland.

New F-35 fighters on their first mission abroad

Norwegian F-35s are also currently conducting missions in Icelandic airspace, as part of the international operation Iceland Air Policing (IAP). Iceland has no defense forces, and Norwegian fighters contribute to NATO’s rotary air defense presence in the country. This is the 332 Squadron’s first foreign mission after the F-35s were declared operational, according to the armed forces.

Norway has acquired a total of 52 new F-35 fighter jets from the United States and has received 15 to date. The main base will be Ørland Air Base [near Trondheim], while a forward operating base will be located at Evenes, between Harstad and Narvik. They must also be able to operate from Rygge air base in the south, according to the armed forces.


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