P-8 Poseidon on Barents Sea mission, turned off transponders
The two planes were in the skies close to Russia’s heavily militarized Murmansk region at the same time on Tuesday, from noon to shortly after 2 pm local time.
“It’s correct that we have been on a mission with the P-8 Poseidon today,” says Martin Mellquist, spokesperson with the Norwegian Air Force when asked by the Barents Observer.
“It was an ordinary flight, but for operational reasons, we do not want to disclose how far east we flew or the content of the flight,” Mellquist tells.
He would not elaborate, or say anything about a possible Russian air force scrambling from the Kola Peninsula to meet the Norwegian anti-sub warfare plane.
The Barents Observer followed the P-8 Poseidon that took off from the air base at Evenes earlier in the day. Over the Barents Sea, the plane turned off the transponder. It was first possible to track the aircraft via Flightrader24 upon return when it flew into Norwegian airspace again northeast of the Varanger Peninsula. From there, the sub-hunter took the shortcut back to Evenes airport.
There were several civilian passenger planes flying over the area in the same period as the Norwegian aircraft turned off the transponder, including a few long-haul Emirates planes en route from the Middle East to North America.
For reasons not to provoke the Russian bear, Norwegians are not allowing allied intelligence-gathering aircraft to fly over eastern Finnmark, the parts of Norway near the border with the Kola Peninsula. Finland, though, does not apply similar self-imposed restrictions after becoming a member of NATO in April this year.
On Tuesday, a U.S. Air Force RC-135V Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft flew to northernmost Finland and circled a few rounds over Inari, the municipality bordering Russia’s Murmansk region.
The U.S. Air Force has not made public the nature of the flight.
The multi-sensor aircraft can detect, identify and geolocate signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum.
Neither the Russian Northern Fleet nor the Defense Ministry have revealed information about any special military activities in northwest Russia on Tuesday, the same day as the high-level NATO Summit took place in Vilnius.