US fighter jets, along with Norwegian F-35A and British military airplanes, intercepted Russian A-50 Beriev airplanes near NATO-allied air space on Thursday, according to NATO.
The Norwegian F-35 chased after the Russian “flying radar” A-50U and approached dangerously. This is the latest move to show that tensions between Russia and NATO are still escalating.
The F-35 chased the Russian A-50U “flying radar” and approached each other at a very close distance. It is known that this F-35 stealth fighter belongs to the Norwegian Air Force and this approach is coordinated with NATO.
In the released photos, the Norwegian F-35 dangerously approached the Russian A-50U warning command aircraft. Approaching at a distance of only a few hundred meters in the air between two aircraft is a very dangerous and somewhat reckless act, but it is not clear what NATO’s move in this incident is.
A day earlier, Norwegian military airplanes identified and intercepted Russian planes in the High North, a separate NATO release said.
Both incidents occurred as tensions between Russia, the US and its NATO allies remain high. Russia continues to build up its military presence along Ukraine’s border and has also built up its maritime presence in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said this week.
Earlier this week, the US announced it would move 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland and Romania in the face of Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine. Some 1,000 troops will move from Germany to Romania, while another 2,000 will move from the US to Germany and Poland, Kirby said.
The incidents between US and NATO-allied military planes shows that Russia is also testing its boundaries with Europe in the air, as well as on land and by sea.
US F-15 fighter jets quickly reacted to a call from Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOCUE), which sent the order from its air policing detachment at Amari Air Base in Estonia on Thursday. The call asked for a response to “investigate unknown aircraft transiting through airspace near to the Baltic Seas,” the NATO release said.
The US F-15 fighter jets took flight and intercepted Russian fighter jets operating near NATO-allied air space over the Baltic Sea. British and Norwegian military planes also intercepted Russian planes flying from the Barents into the North Sea in response to the call on Thursday, the release said.
For NATO forces, it was a second day responding to Russian planes flying in the upper North Atlantic region.
On Wednesday, Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 military planes quickly responded to a call from the Norwegian Control and Reporting Center at Sørreisa. The alert said Russian planes “were detected flying out of the Kola Peninsula,” which shares the same land mass as Finland.
The Norwegian F-35s “launched over the Finnmark coast,” the release said. They identified “and shadowed a Russian A-50 Mainstay aircraft,” before returning to their base.
After that, “the Russian group of aircraft divided up, some returning to Russian airspace while others continued south into the North Atlantic,” the release said.
After a short approach, the Norwegian F-35 jumped up, the Russian side also said they flew outside the range of NATO airspace.
Countries are always concerned about the presence of the Russian A-50U aircraft near the airspace, because this aircraft is capable of spying on military secrets. The A-50U is the latest variant of the A-50 warning and control aircraft, which can control the movements of the enemy, the performance of fighter jets as well as ground targets. At the same time, this aircraft can command and coordinate many fighters to create surprise attacks or counterattacks.
The Beriev A-50 is an airborne early warning and control aircraft (AWACS) built by the Beriev Aeronautical Science Complex in Taganrog on the basis of the Soviet Il-76 transport aircraft, to replace the Tu-126.On the basis of the A-50U Russia is also developing a more modern warning and control aircraft with the designation A-100.
The Russian A-50U can detect fighter jets from a distance of 650 km, ground or sea targets 300 km away, and cruise missiles from a distance of 215 km.