Extreme wind conditions hindered Norway to scramble F-16s.
Early Monday morning, two Tu-160 strategic bombers took off and headed north towards the Barents Sea from north of the Kola Peninsula. From there, they were flying all along the coast of Norway and continued to the North Sea.
Press spokesman Lt. Col. Ivar Moen with the Joint Head Quaters says to the Barents Observer that it was considered to scramble Norwegian fighter jets from both Bodø and Ørland air stations, but the wind was too strong.
«We had wind up to 50-60 knots from north of Finnmark to Stadt [on Norway’s west coast]. Also, the direction of the wind was challenging. It was not safe to take off,» Moen says.
«But we followed them by other means and there were no indications that the [Russian] aircrafts were heading towards Norwegian air space,» Ivar Moen elaborates.
«They were flying in a distance from our air space,» he says but will not detail the distance. Over the North Sea, the bombers turned north and followed the same route towards the Barents Sea and Russian air space.
Flying at 40,000 feet, wind conditions for the two TU-160s could be very different from near ground.
Part of larger exercise
The mission was likely part of a larger on-going Russian exercise with strategic nuclear forces.
In the course of combat training, simulated missile launches took place from mobile systems in the Irkutsk region in Siberia on Monday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense reports.
Belgium Air Force was first to inform about the Russian hypersonic aircrafts flying over the North Sea. A tweet says two Belgium F-16s «successfully interceptred 2 Russian TU-160 Blackjack bombers above the North Sea, within the Dutch area of responsibility of NATO airspace.»
Already last Thursday, Topol-M and Yars mobile missile systems were put on combat alert at different field positions preparing for the drill, the Russian Defense Ministry informs.
Later, also several British media reported that Royal Air Force scrambled two Typhoon fighter jets to escort the Russian military planes Monday morning.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Fishing diplomacy, rethinking China & how Twitter is improving northern news : 2017 Arctic Year in Review, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Deal protects Arctic waters around Svalbard, Norway from fishing, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Russia’s Lavrov attacks Norway, says relations on Svalbard should be better, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Report: Russia spread fake news and disinformation in Sweden, Radio Sweden
United States: Safer airspace but more noise? U.S. Air Force considers changing jet flight patterns in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News