2015-02-19 As part of the overall pressure which Russia is putting upon Europe as part of the Ukrainian campaign, Russian bomber incursions have been stepped up over the past few months.
This means that European air forces are having to exercise air interception missions on a more regular basis than since the end of the Cold War.
The most recent one occurred in the UK as Bear bombers approached British sovereign airspace.
In a press release by the UK Ministry of Defense the incident was described this way:
RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched [on Wednesday] after Russian aircraft were identified flying close to UK airspace.
The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest.
At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.
According to a BBC story published February 19, 2015, the incursion was part of a trend.
Speaking to journalists from the Times and Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, Mr Fallon expressed concern over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interference in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and elsewhere around Europe.
“He flew two Russian bombers down the English Channel two weeks ago. We had to scramble jets very quickly to see them off. It’s the first time since the height of the Cold War, it’s the first time that’s happened.
“That just shows you, you need to respond, each time he does something like that, you need to be ready to respond.”
Mr Fallon also said the increase in Russian defence spending was “clearly worrying”.
“They are modernising their conventional forces, they are modernising their nuclear forces and they are testing Nato, so we need to respond.
“There are lots of worries. I’m worried about Putin. There’s no effective control of the border, I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato, the submarines and aircraft.”
When asked about the prospect of a new Cold War, he said: “It is warming up, you have tanks and armour rolling across the Ukrainian border and you have an Estonian border guard who has been captured and not yet still returned.”
The most recent prior experience for the RAF was in January when two Bear bombers disrupted civil air operations and were escorted out of British airspace.
Also see this story:
The Russian Air Force is a busy global force of asserting Russian interests.
In the video below, a near collision between a Norwegian F-16 and a Russian MiG can be seen.
According to a Daily Mail story published on December 2, 2014:
Dramatic footage has emerged showing a Norwegian air force pilot being forced into an emergency manoeuvre to avoid a mid-air crash with a Russian fighter jet.
In the video, released by Norway’s military, one of its pilots shouts ‘What the hell?!’ before veering away sharply as the Russian MiG-31 flashes into view, just 65 feet from the F-16.
‘The Russian pilot’s behaviour was not quite normal,’ said Norwegian armed forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal about the 26-second film clip released on Sunday.
The close encounter occurred in international airspace ‘north of Norway’ but the armed forces did not say when.
Unlike neighbouring non-aligned Sweden, Norway – a NATO member – has not reported any airspace incursions by Russia in recent years and gauges the level of Russian air force activity in the area as ‘pretty normal or a little more’ than usual.
So far this year, Norway has scrambled its air force 43 times to identify 69 Russian planes, compared to 41 incidents involving 58 planes in 2013.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that the alliance had reported 400 intercepts of Russian military flights so far this year – a 50 per cent increase compared to 2013.
He complained that Russian jets flying without sharing their flight plans posed a danger to commercial air traffic.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute also revealed ‘multiple incidents’ where Russian military aircraft had not filed flight plans nor spoken to civilian air traffic controllers and had turned off transponders that send information about the plane.
This made the planes virtually invisible to air traffic controllers, he told a news conference.
‘These Russian actions are irresponsible, pose a threat to civilian aviation and demonstrate that Russia is flagrantly violating international norms,’ he said. ….