Swedish Spyplane “caught” flying off Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast

A Swedish Air Force Gulfstream IVSP Electronic Intelligence plane could be tracked as it flew in the airspace off Kaliningrad Oblast, where some of the most active Russian bases in the Baltic region are located.

The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of S102B Korpen, modified Gulfstream IVSP aircraft used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) missions. These aircraft are equipped with sensors capable to eavesdrop, collect and analyse enemy electronic emissions.

Korpet jets conduct routine surveillance missions over the Baltic Sea, flying high and fast in international airspace close to the area of interest.

As we reported last month, the Swedish spyplanes are almost always intercepted by Russian armed fighter jets on Quick Reaction Alert at the Russian airbase in the Kaliningrad exclave; even if this is pretty routine stuff, the Russian Su-27 Flankers have become a bit too aggressive as proved by the incident occurred on Jul. 16, when a Russian Air Force interceptor flew as close as 10,7 meters of the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Anyway, unlike Russian bombers and spyplanes, that frequently operate with their transponders turned off, posing a threat to civilian traffic of northern Europe, the Swedish Gulfstream IV have their transponders turned on and regularly provide updates on their position to the relevant civilian air traffic control agencies along their route.

This means that they can even be monitored during their missions, as happened on Friday Nov. 21, when one the two Korpens could be tracked thanks to the ADS-B using Planefinder.net as it flew some “racetracks” over the Baltic Sea.

Noteworthy, the aircraft operated between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast, the latter, with its Russian air bases, being most probably one of the targets of the spyplane.

We have frequently highlighted that Russian Air Force spyplanes regularly skirt foreign airspaces during missions aimed at gathering intelligence on NATO and non-NATO countries. The Swedish activity off Kaliningrad Oblast proves that, although on a smaller scale, other air arms do the same on Russia.

Top image: Planefinder.net screenshot

H/T to @FMCNL for the heads-up


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. It is great to see, these things never reports in Swedish media, so most of the swedish public does not know about this close Surveillance of Russia

    • ”…and today we received reports on our Air force spying on Russia…”

      Damn that sounds bad.

    • Thank you so much for this deep insight of yours, ”Lasse”.

      So, Sweden is monitoring Russian activities? Surprise, surprise. Russia is monitoring Swedish activities as well. That’s what intelligence services do.

      The ”news” here is apparently that Sweden flies its recon missions with transponders switched on, making it possible for anyone to follow them on sites like planefinder.net.

      Using transponders to become visible should be an example for Russia to follow, as to avoid incidents like this: https://theaviationist.com/2014/05/09/il-20-near-collides-with-sas-flight/ – where a Il-20 ”Coot” came within 90 meters of a civilian SAS Boeing 737.

      The article’s main message is: ”business as usual”. Not much ”news” to be found. Not even a media conspiracy. Sorry ”Lasse”.

  2. At least they operate with their transponders on for everyone elses safety. Sooner or later, the Russians are going to “accidentally” pull a China and run into something…

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