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. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

  3. 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.

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

    • 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!!

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

    • 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.

  5. 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…

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