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.

6 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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