Tag Archives: Swedish Air Force

Four A-10 tankbusters have landed on a highway (in Estonia): it’s the first time since 1984!

A-10 Thunderbolt II practiced Cold War-style landing on a highway during Ex. Saber Strike 2016.

For the first time in 32 years, four A-10 Warthogs, belonging to the 127th Wing, Michigan National Guard, performed highway landing practice: it occurred in Estonia, as part of Saber Strike 16 exercise, on Jun. 20.

Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise designed to improve joint interoperability through a range of missions that prepare the 14 participating nations to support multinational contingency operations.

A-10 land Estonia 2

After WWII and through the Cold War some countries developed the concept of highway strips to get rid off one of the basic drawbacks of combat plane – runway dependency – in case of nuclear war. Airstrips and their coordinates were not secret, neither in the West nor in Soviet Russia. Obviously they would be destroyed in the beginning of any conflict.

Designed in the 1920s and 30s, the German Autobahn had sections that could be used as runways by tactical jets as well as military cargo planes: for instance, the A-29 between Ahlhorn and Groβenkneten is one example of highway where, during the Cold War, NATO planners built a road to accommodate NATO aircraft if a war with the Soviets broke out.

In that period, even Warsaw Pact countries had several highway strips: Poland had as many as 21 DOLs, Drogowy Odcinek Lotniskowy, which is a Polish name for highway strips: improvised runways made of hightway section with wider ends to provide parking spaces for the planes.

One of these is still located near Stettin (Szczecin) on the Voyvodeship Road 142 near the S3 State Road on the German-planned highway towards Kaliningrad. This highway was built in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler and was a part of the Reichsautobahn network which emerged before the WWII; the remaining ones are mostly out of use.

Highway landings were part of the standard training conducted mainly in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe during the Cold War. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, highway take-offs and landings became less frequent.

However, with the renewed Russian threat, training for operations from dispersed places, including public roads, has gradually resumed and involves Finnish and Swedish planes and after more than 30 years, even the U.S. A-10 tankbusters, frequent visitors of Russia’s backyard lately.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force





Watch this awesome JAS-39 Gripen video shot with a special ultra-stable gyro camera

Rock-steady footage at speeds exceeding 300 knots.

This footage does not need too much explanations.

According to Blue Sky Aerial’s Peter Degerfeldt, “Saab Defence and Security needed a heavy-duty camera system to capture its Gripen fighter jet’s top speeds of over 345 mph and US-based company Blue Sky helped by building a customized gyro-stabilized camera. Consisting of a 6K Red Dragon digital camera and $40K USD Canon lens, the 5-axis system yields rock-steady images, even at speeds of more than 300 knots.”

Watch out the stunning footage shot from a SK60 photoship.

H/T Henry Blom for the heads-up

Watch Finnish and Swedish fighter jets take off and land on a Finnish country road during a recent exercise

Finnish and Swedish aircraft take off and land on roads as part of the training.

From Sep. 19 to 26 the Finnish Air Force conducted Exercise Baana 2015 which took place at the Rovaniemi Air Base and from the road strip at Hosio.

Finnish Hornet and Hawk jets, tactical and light transport aircraft were joined in this exercise by two Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters from 211 Squadron, F 21, which landed on a road runway in Finland for the first time.

Gripen Forsvarsmakten

Gripen Forsvarsmakten 2

According to the Swedish Armed Forces, Baana 2015 has been a challenge for the Swedish pilots since they had to fly in from Sweden and land on a section of highway 924 under overcast conditions, as the following video shows.

As we have already explained, such kind of training was part of the standard training conducted mainly in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe during the Cold War. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, highway take-offs and landings have become less frequent.

However, the threat of Russian bombers violating the airspace of Baltic countries requiring dispersion and QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) intervention, from any place, including public roads, is still alive.

Image credit: Swedish Armed Forces

Russian spyplane nearly collided with Airliner off Sweden. Again.

Russian planes that operate close to airspaces of northern European countries pose a threat to civil aviation.

A civil plane, en route from Denmark to Poland, almost collided with a Russian spyplane minutes after departure, Swedish authorities said on Friday.

The Russian aircraft was flying with the transponder turned off; the Swedish Air Force scrambled its JAS-39 Gripen jets to intercept and escort the “intruder”, that they identified as an intelligence gathering type (most probably an Il-20 Coot).

According to Flightradar24.com, the flight involved in the near-miss was SK1755, a Canadair CRJ-200 (registration OY-RJK) from Cimber Airlines departed from Copenhagen, with destination Poznan.

Based on the analysis of the ADS-B data they collected, the dangerous close encounter occurred about halfway between Ystad, Sweden and Sassnitz, Germany, between 11:21 CET and 11:25 CET.

Here’s how the incident developed:

11:18: SK1755 got permission to climb to 25,000 feet
11:21: SK1755 urged to stop the climb at 21,000 feet due military traffic between 23,000 and 25,000 feet.
11:23 SK1755 advised to turn right to avoid military traffic.
11:24 SK1755 reached 21,000 feet and stopped climbing.
11:24 SK1755 passed just behind the military plane and then allowed to continue the climb.

At this link you can see the Sk1755 turn to the right to avoid the collision and stop climbing to 21,000 feet. Obviously, you can’t see the Russian plane, as it was flying, in international airspace, with the transponder turned off, hence invisible to civilian radars.

Near collision Sweden

Image credit: Flightradar24.com

The near collision comes in a period of intense Russian Air Force activity in the Baltics; a surge in missions that are flown without FPL (Flight Plan) nor transponders (sometimes to probe local air defenses readiness) that may pose a threat to civilian traffic in the region.

On Mar. 3, SAS flight SK 681, a Boeing 737 with 132 people on board from Copenhagen to Rome almost collided with an Il-20 Coot, about 50 miles to the southwest of Malmö, Sweden. Thanks to the good visibility, the SAS pilot could avoid the Russian SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) aircraft:the two planes passed 90 meters apart.

Russian Air Force bombers, including Tu-95s, Tu-22s, Su-34s escorted by MiG-31s and Su-27s, as well as Il-20s regularly fly in the Scandinavian region causing alert scrambles by NATO planes providing QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for the Baltic Air Policing mission.

Top image credit: French Air Force


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