Swedish jets aloft as Russians increase Baltic presence

Four JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters perform during the Day of the Airforce in Linkoping, Sweden on June 13, 2010. (AFP)
Four JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters perform during the Day of the Airforce in Linkoping, Sweden on June 13, 2010. (AFP)
It is becoming more and more common that Swedish fighter jets have to fly out to identify Russian military planes, especially since the crisis in Ukraine began.

“Russia is conducting drills more every year now. They are flying more, they are sailing their ships more. They are more often in the vicinity of the Baltic Sea,” Major General and head of the Swedish Air Force Micael Bydén told Swedish Radio news.

Swedish fighter jets are flying more now than earlier.

“We are flying approximately 50 percent more than we did two years ago,” Bydén said.

One problem is that Russian reconnaissance aircraft have their transponders shut off and are not visible to civilian air radar.

On 3 March this year off the southern coast of Sweden, a Scandinavian Airlines plane almost collided with a Russian military plane which had its transponder turned off.

When asked if he thought there was cause for worry for those planning to travel by plane from Sweden, Bydén said no.

“No, my assessment is that there is not. We are more on the ball today,” Bydén said.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada boycotts Moscow Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Ex-President Ahtisaari calls on Finland to join NATO with Sweden, Yle News

Norway:  Nordics rethink security after Ukraine crisis, Yle News

Sweden: Sweden providing jets to NATO, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Blog – Russia puts countries on edge in the Arctic, Cryopolitics

United States: Can an aggressive Russia remain U.S.’s nice Arctic neighbor?, APRN

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