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

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

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • @ 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.

      • 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.

  2. 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!.

    • 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!

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

  4. 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)

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