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

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


About David Cenciotti 4450 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.


  1. 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

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

  2. 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 !

    • 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.

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