Russian intelligence gathering plane flies near Sweden. Swedish Air Force allegedly fails to intercept it.

Apr 27 2013 - 2 Comments

On Mar. 29, two Russian Tu-22M Backfire bombers, escorted by four Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, conducted a simulated night attack on Sweden. The mock air strike did not cause any reaction by the Swedish air force.

On Apr. 25, Svenska Dagbladet reported about a Russian Air Force ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) plane that on the preceding day flew in an unusually aggressive fashion in a narrow line of international airspace in between two big strategically placed Swedish isles, Öland and Gotland.

The Russian plane, reportedly an Il-20 Coot, arrived from the southern Baltic Sea on a northern course between the islands, then it turned south: a route that brought the spyplane close to violating the Swedish airspace.

One reason for the Russian reconnaissance plane to fly so close to Sweden may have been the large international “Combined Joint Staff Exercise” that began on Apr. 20.

The annual exercise features intense signal connection between the staffs in Karlskrona, Enköping and Uppsala; signals that could be of interest for the Russian Il-20 whose presence between Öland and Gotland could also be aimed at testing the Swedish Air Force air defense readiness.

Il-20 Coot

It is not clear yet whether any Swedish Gripen interceptor was scrambled to intercept the spyplane.

According to some Svenska Dagbladet’s sources, Sweden did not launch any Gripen; other sources say the Gripens were launched, but a bit too late to intercept the intruder when flying between the Swedish islands.

Either case, the lack of proper/effective reaction by the Swedish Air Force to Russia’s aggressive posture in the Baltic is causing concern in Sweden.

In 2011, a Russian Il-20s was intercepted by JAS-39 Gripens of the Czech Air Force performing Baltic Air Policing tasks from Lithuania’s First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport as the image in this article shows.

H/T to Erik Arnberg for the heads-up

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  • Swede

    What source claimed that they were late?

    According to both Swedish media, the defense minister and the officers I know we did not send anything up as our dear politicians doesn’t want to pay the wages for having people on standby

    • Erik

      Swedish national media Svenska Dagbladet did. Their text from the article quoted and linked to above:
      “Om några svenska Gripenplan kom i luften denna gång är oklart. Enligt
      några av SvD:s källor fick Sverige inte upp några Gripenplan. Enligt
      andra källor så startade Gripen. Bägge uppgifterna kan vara korrekta om
      Gripenplanen kom upp, men för sent för att markera när det ryska planet
      befann sig mellan de svenska öarna.”
      Last sentence “Both pieces of information may be correct if the Gripen-planes did get up, but too late to meet up as the Russian plane was between the Swedish isles”.