Norwegian F-16s took some stunning pictures of Russian Su-34 fighter bombers flying off Norway

Nov 11 2014 - 26 Comments

At the end of October Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s intercepted Russian Air Force Su-34 Fullback long-range strike fighters off the northeastern coast of Norway.

On Oct. 29, the Royal Norwegian Air Force had an interesting close encounter with Russian Su-34 Fullback jets on long-range armed patrol off Norway.

According to the Norwegian newspaper VG, that got access to the images taken by the RoNAF during the intercept mission off Finmark, this was the first time the Su-34s were observed and identified while flying in international airspace off Norway.

The photographs released by the RNoAF was taken by one of the F-16s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Bodo airbase and depict a Su-34 Russian aircraft carrying what looks like a single external fuel tank and two Vympel R-73 air-to-air missiles, shadowed by another F-16 carrying two drop tanks and two AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles).

According to Norway’s Joint Chief of Staff spokesperson, although the Russian air traffic in the Nordic region of Europe has been relatively stable for several years, the Russian planes are becoming newer and more advanced.

Indeed, even if it made its maiden flight in 1990, the Su-34 has been inducted into active service by the Russian Air Force beginning in 2012.

Noteworthy, the Su-34s were part of a large formation of 10 Russian planes which included Tu-95 Bear H bombers and Il-78 tanker aircraft launched from the Kola Peninsula: two Tu-95s skirted the British Isles and reached the Atlantic off Portugal, where they were intercepted by the Portuguese F-16s.

F-16 escorts Su-34

Image credit: RNoAF via

H/T Lasse Holmstrom and @geirfl for the heads-up


  • Krincingwesi

    I think as long NATO only intercept papabear birdmachines with a pair of F-16 or F-18 they will keep test your border. With fullback capability jammer pod in picture (test on donald cook warship incident) there is no change that Viper would engage fullback. NATO need strong superiority birdmachines and when NATO posted F-35 to intercept this kind of papabear machines then they will know they build the wrong machines

    • jetcal1

      I would hope the SU would be superior. It’s conceptually 16 years newer. The jury is still out on the F-35.

  • Oliver Schulz

    Interesting top picture … the centre tank looks like the one’s used by the Su-24 Fencer.
    Considering it is an attack aircraft , it has a light load with just the tank and two R-73’s , I Guess that in this configuration , the range will be considerable !

  • Lorenzo Mainardi

    What is the big rear pod?

    • Tom Jones

      It looks like some kind of Anti-Submarine Warfare boom. You see them on the P-3 Orion.

    • I believe I’ve read around that they have additional ECM and jamming equipment back there.

    • Rob

      It’s their rear facing radar assembly, MAD and countermeasures suite if I recall correctly. Most modernized flanker derivatives have them, supposedly to counter the poor rearward visibility.

    • This is containers of electronic intelligence or suppression

    • Grach25

      Vodka tank.

  • AlexisWolf

    I wonder if the SU34’s took great pics of the F-16’s in international airspace too?

  • goggyturk

    Actually, the Su-34 was designed for maritime patrol as one of its main missions and the tail boom was designed for a MAD sensor.

    • tim robinson

      I wouldn’t wipe my ass with that site

      • Ausairpower does have some good information but I agree, it’s very alarmist and that skews a lot of the information.

    • While the Su-34 could certainly do maritime patrol it would be of an anti-ship nature. The Russian Naval Aviation has Su-24s and ultimately they will get Su-34s but ASW isn’t something they will be doing, it’s not an ideal ASW platform.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The SU-27 seems to be the closest any air force has come yet to a general purpose design along the lines that McNamara was looking for back in the 60’s. A close second might be the F-15. McNamara might have scoffed at the F-15 because of the high price in developing the F-15E. I know the Su-27 was not cheap either, and it took a long time over 20 years to bring to the fore. Does anyone know what the development cycle and costs were for the Su-34? It’s got lots of hard points, and internal fuel. If it can be a munitions truck with long legs, and fight like a fighter while carrying a full load of ECM, it’s an amazing advance above and beyond the F-111, and a good improvement over the F-15E.

    • skunimatrix

      F-15 was designed as a dedicated Air Superiority platform based out of experience in Vietnam plus as a counter to the MIG-25, although the MIG-25 didn’t turn out to be quite the threat in reality many believed it was. The F-15E program was originally undertaken by McDonnell Douglas in the late 70’s knowing a replacement for the E/F-111 and remaining F-4’s were going to be needed. Something that could deliver more bombs than an F-16. Most of the changes to the F-15E had to do with avionics & radar rather than structural changes.

      • goggyturk

        Yup, I remember seeing pictures of an F-15B hauling a pile of Mk82s into the air back in the early 80s. The unmodified plane was clearly capable of carrying the ordinance back then.

  • R_of_the_H

    I’d like to see a drone F-16 fly up along the side one those Russians and give them the ‘bot finger.

  • vaildog

    What would happen if these Russian flights weren’t intercepted and allowed to penetrate Norweigan or British airspace?
    1. Would the Russians actually cross into another country’s airspace?
    2. The Russians would have no leg to stand on if once they had penetrated another nations airspace they were engaged.
    I’m saying NATO should actually allow a Russian plane to enter their airspace, shoot it down, and end this nonsense once and for all.

    • Dennis Nilsson

      If or when NATO’s flights cross into Russian airspace, do you want them also to be shoot down?

    • Lomunac

      Only nonsence here is your comment, they were NOT entering anyone’s airspace, they were in international airspace heading for Kaliningrad!!!
      And good luck trying to shot down one of them, eventhought this is a BOMBER and not a fighter like news say, it can fend for himself, and those pods on the wingtips are either Knirti or even Khibiny jammers, it would be a miracle if they were shot down as easy as you say!!

  • Alleged Comment

    Lucky the Norwegian air force did not decide to shoot that polluting big fat blob out of the air.

    • Olla

      8.5t empty weight vs 22.5t. more likely the f16 try to stay out of the warm fart behinde the su, otherwise the f16 could be blown away.

  • Lomunac

    Yeaaah, pure idiocy, and you are SURE of that because??? See that pod on a wingtip, it’s either Knirti or Khibiny, it CAN jamm at the very least guided missiles, and if a pulse is few megawats strong it can overpower a radar!
    Also, did that news 6 months before the incident say that 27 sailors (10+% of crew!!) resign immediately upon arriving in Romania??? Yeaaah, pure idiocy…

  • wolfram

    The Pig can’t really catch up with the faster plane with double the amount of fuel, so good luck with getting the M61 to bear.

  • AKM

    According to Norway’s Joint Chief of Staff spokesperson, although the Russian air traffic in the Nordic region of Europe has been relatively stable for several years, the Russian planes are becoming newer and more advanced.

    I don’t get it. If the Russians flying their planes in international airspace, what’a the problem. It seems that they are complaining about Russian planes getting more and more advance. Are other countries not allowed to have advance military equipments and weapons? What is it with NATO and their problems with other countries make independent policies that is still legal according to international laws? NATO breaks international laws all the time period with their illegal wars. The US can have 900 bases around the world, but when Russia sets up a base, after being invited by the host country, the US and the media cries about it. The childish hypocrisy from the US/NATO establishment blows my mind sometimes