From the cockpit of the Tu-95MS flying outside Northern Norway on February 12. Screenshot from Defense Ministry video

Russian bombers outside Finnmark ahead of exercise Nordic Response

Two Tu-95 strategic bombers escorted by Su-35 fighter jets flew west in the Barents Sea over international air space Monday.
February 12, 2024


The Russian bombers continued west of North Cape to air space over the Norwegian Sea, Russia’s defense ministry informs

“The flights were carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace,” said the commander of long-range aviation, Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash.

A pair of fighter jets from what the defense ministry says was a “foreign country” met the Russian bombers. The statement does not mention Norway, but at Evenes air base inside the Arctic Circle, the Norwegian Air Force has a pair of F-35 fighter jets on standby for scrambling by NATO to meet Russian military planes in NATO’s area of interest in the north. 

The duration of the flight lasted for over five hours, the ministry informs. Russia has about 10 Tu-95 strategic bombers at Olenya Air Base on the Kola Peninsula, bombers that regularly conduct sorties attacking cities in Ukraine. 


One of the Su-35 (named Flanker-E by NATO) flew wing-by-wing to protect the Tu-95 bombers heading west over the Barents Sea outside northernmost Norway. Screenshot from Defense Ministry video


Although being Moscow’s most busy cruise missile platforms in the war of aggression against Ukraine, the Tu-95 and Tu-160 aircraft still found time to increase the number of flights outside Norwegian air space in 2023. Nine Tu-160 and Tu-95, code-named Bear and Blackjack by NATO, were identified on flights close to Norway in 2023, head of communications with the Norwegian Air Force, Lt Col Eivind Byre previously told the Barents Observer. That was up from six in 2022, eight in 2021, and four in 2020.


The bomber’s mission on Monday comes a few weeks before Norway kicks off its huge Arctic exercise Nordic Response. More than 20,000 soldiers from 14 countries will train to defend the Nordic region. 

The exercise will have its focal point in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, as well as in the corresponding airspace and sea areas. There will be particularly high activity at sea with over 50 registered submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers, and various amphibious vessels.

In the air, more than 100 fighter jets, transport aircraft, maritime surveillance aircraft, as well as allied CH43 Super Stallion, Merlin, Cobra, and Osprey will participate. On the ground, thousands of soldiers will defend and protect Nordic territory with various artillery systems, tanks, tracked vehicles, and other land vehicles.




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