NATO worried by an “unusual level of Russian air activity over European airspace”: 19 warplanes intercepted today

Oct 29 2014 - 28 Comments

Russian air activity across Europe is surging: three more formations intercepted today.

As reported yesterday, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets over the Baltic Sea.

The following day, Oct. 29, three large packages of Russian planes skirting NATO “airspace” were detected and monitored by aircraft on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) in both northern Europe and Turkey.

“These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” said NATO in an official statement.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. CET NATO radars detected and tracked eight Russian aircraft flying in formation over the North Sea, in international airspace.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force scrambled its F-16s in QRA that intercepted and identified the Russian aircraft as four Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers and four Il-78 tanker aircraft.

In what can be seen as a “show of force”, two of the Russian strategic bombers flew parallel to the Norwegian coast, heading to the south-west and were intercepted by Eurofighter Typhoon jets scrambled by the Royal Air Force (whereas the remaining 6 Russian Air Force planes returned towards Russia).

West of Portugal the two Bears were intercepted by F-16s from the Portuguese Air Force.

According to NATO, “The bomber and tanker aircraft from Russia did not file flight plans or maintain radio contact with civilian air traffic control authorities and they were not using on-board transponders. This poses a potential risk to civil aviation as civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft or ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic.”

Later on the same day, whilst the Tu-95 returned towards Russia, NATO radars detected and tracked four Russian aircraft flying over the Black Sea in international air space: 2 Tu-95 Bear-H bombers and 2 Su-27 Flanker fighter jets.

Turkish Air Force F-16s were scrambled and intercepted the Russian aircraft in international airspace.

During the afternoon of Oct. 29 October, NATO radars detected and tracked 7 Russian planes over the Baltics (needless to say, in international airspace): 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets (these were probably the very same aircraft intercepted on Oct. 28).

Portuguese F-16 Fighters assigned to the Baltic Air Policing Mission were scrambled from Šiauliai, Lithuania. It’s unclear whether they reached the package or not; anyway, the Russian Air Force planes returned to Russia’s airspace.
Image credit: UK MoD / Crown Copyright

  • big john ok

    Since Putin wants to saber rattle we should start flying chrome dome missions with b-52’s again maybe park a carrier off the coast of Russia, now this will never happen because we have a spineless chump for a Potus.

    • Mongee Phase

      Yeah, that will show Putin who’s boss. Well start WW3, war is the only option. Great idea……. Big John is secretly John McCain. Explains everything, nothing gets past the shark. lulz

    • StanSki

      Maybe if we stayed to ourselves and let Russia handle it’s own business in the Ukraine we wouldn’t have to worry about anything.

    • lanz

      nice try dr. strangelove

    • Mark

      @ big John,

      You said:

      “We have a spineless chump for a Potus”.

      Potus is not in command; the Joint Chiefs of Staff are real in command.

      And that’s a good thing!

      For example: Never in the history are more terrorist killed by American drones or other means!

      Vladimir Putin, the “crazy dog dictator” is only flying with his pathetic (piece of crap) ancient Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers, because he wants to show to his ignorant Russian population that Russia still is an important player, military wise.

      In the Western word we know much better!

      If you still fly with a Tu-95 Bear H strategic bomber, you are a pathetic loser.

      (Compare the Tu-95 Bear H with the American B-1B !).

      Russia is still technological miles behind among other things; on high technological avionics and is no match for American armed forces!

      Russia under Vladimir Putin is a direct threat for world peace, fortunately America and the NATO countries have enough modern (nuclear) arms to put mad dog Putin in his doghouse; among through the M.A.D.-principle.

      • Prince Edward

        2000 nuclear warheads, both Land and SLBMs.

        NATO is aggressively expanding towards Russia in violation of promises made at the end of the Cold War. Nor is it “Isolated”. It ain’t 1970 anymore. Russians can sell gas and oil to China, India, and the rest of the world.

  • Pepe Le Cox

    US surveillance aircrafts have been flying for years near the paralell 24 checking Cuba’s air defenses, air intercept radars, radio communications, etc (in international airspace) using RC-135, TR-1 and the fast SR-71, which cross the cuban borders and airspace in several ocasions, and they never were intercepted, and never you read any news in the media about. Why they did it? because the can!, now is the opposite situation, get over with it!.

    • ODM

      How does that even compare to this? Cuba’s lack of a credible air defense system has nothing to do with NATO aircraft intercepting and shadowing Russian formations. A more appropriate example would be something on the order of that SU-27 that buzzed our ‘135 a couple months back, also in international airspace. Neither NATO nor the Russians did anything wrong or suspicious here…not sure why folks are so surprised. Hell, this kind of thing should be fun for a lot of NATO pilots after years of quiet QRA time. At least they’re getting some “hands-on” practice!

  • Wow

    Yeah great idea since…you know..Russia doesn’t have any carriers of their own to park on the coast of the USA.

  • Keith Jones

    Angry at falling oil prices. Hit em where it hurts !

  • Mosquito

    Better rivive few of those SR-71’s… Fly over Russia and show how worthless their air defenses are! (Not w mr Hussein at the reigns of course)

  • Kill_switch

    I see it much more disturbing, that the NATO pretends, that they do not haveregular surveillance flights over Russian territory, and only the Reds are the devil. It is a mutual training / testing the awareness of the other side’s / ddetection of radar equipment / the reaction speed of the other missle systems and air forces.

    This is hapening on both sides, western jurnalists are just simply BIASED.

  • Gyoz

    Looks like Putin is feeling the pressure and is setting a show of force.

    The Russian government budget is based on a oil price of USD 104 while now we are got to USD 80. This means that in 2015 Putin will find a nice gift in the form of a huge hole in their financials. Read the article for an analysis:

    “If oil prices were to stay in the range they are in now, we’ll see the Russian budget fall into deficit next year; that’s on top of the economic challenges they are already facing from sanctions and the decline in the value of their currency,”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/world/europe/fall-in-oil-prices-poses-a-problem-for-russia-iraq-and-others.html?_r=0

    • Prince Edward

      The budget is based on $104, it doesn’t mean that unless it’s $104 Russia starves to death.

  • James Wyatt

    We could use the same tactic employed by Pres. Kennedy. Slow everything down. What is going on in the uKrain is very unfortunate. However there is something unchanged that remains unseen. It is always the old ways to war.

  • Mark

    You said: “Russian one is more cheaper and they have hundreds compared with the few ultra expensive B-1B and B-2 priced each one in more than a billion! ahhh and the Russian is faster!”.

    Indeed, that’s why flying with the very obsolete Tu-95 Bear H strategic bomber is a pathetic joke and is only a show of force for the (ignorant) Russian population.

    Regularly flying with the Tu-95 Bear H is absolutely necessary for maintenance purposes.
    That the Russians didn’t scrap theTu-95 Bear H a very long time ago, says everything about their “advanced” technology.

    You don’t need strategic bombers (it is even ineffective) any-more to delver nuclear payloads; in a symmetrical nuclear conflict it will be launched with (supersonic) cruise missiles or ICBM’s.

  • Mark

    Indeed, that’s why flying with the very obsolete Tu-95 Bear H strategic
    bomber is a pathetic joke and is only a show of force for the (ignorant)
    Russian population.

    Regularly flying with the Tu-95 Bear H is absolutely necessary for maintenance purposes.
    That the Russians didn’t scrap theTu-95 Bear H a very long time ago, says everything about their “advanced” technology.

  • Mark

    You said:

    “Don’t think they can’t fly these missions with Tu-160s instead’.

    What missions?

    You don’t need strategic bombers (it is even ineffective) any-more to
    delver nuclear payloads; in a symmetrical nuclear conflict it will be
    launched with (supersonic) cruise missiles or ICBM’s.

  • Mark

    What can a SR-72 do better than (for example) a KH-12 satellite ?

    • Michael Rich

      Satellite paths can be predicted well before it’s over an area; which gives the enemy time to hide whatever they don’t want to be seen. Meanwhile with a SR-72 going at Mach 6 they will have much less time to hide, if any at all.

      • Mark

        And that’s why the US has among the X-37B, much faster -Orbital speed: 17,426 mph- than the SR-72 and we still don’t know what the (spy) capabilities are.

        A few satellites above enemy territory are geostationary, so there is no place to hide, day or night.

  • big john ok

    When you need a dump truck of an airplane to drop bombs on rag tag outfits that do not have an air force and limited anti-air capability(basically man pads). Its effective I wouldnt want to be riding on a b-52 against a nation that has an air force even if its old mig-21’s and suhoki’s.

  • F-117

    If some small Balkan country “Serbia” killed US stealth jet i can only imagine what can Russia do?

    • Prince Edward

      Tee Hee! Stealth is overrated, especially in the days of AESA.

      I wonder how many 50-year old Lockheed Martin contractors maintaining the hangar queen “Stealth” “5th” Generation fighters will stand up when the airbase is attacked.

  • Prince Edward

    Merkel was not only a card carrying member of the DDR Communist Party, she was the Secretary of the Communist Youth!

  • Prince Edward

    The Russians are going to stop Ukraine from joining NATO the same way the US (via the CIA or if need be the Armed Forces) would never let Mexico join a Russia-China alliance.