October 30, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Denmark scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to identify a Russian bomber detected on radar near the NATO member's airspace, the Danish air force said in a statement.
A QRA scramble from Skrydstrup on August 18th, 2006. Note the live Sidewinders. [Photo by Henrik]
F-16s made visual contact with a Tupolev-160 bomber on Wednesday at 06.02h after which they followed it for about 25 minutes before it headed back to Russia.
The Tupolev took off from the Russian military base in Murmansk, then flew over the Norwegian coast and the North Sea before it was observed near the Danish coast.
There have been two similar sightings recently, the Danish air force stated.
While such flights were standard during the Cold War standoff with the United States and its western European allies, they were abandoned in 1992 amid financial difficulties that followed the Soviet collapse.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the resumption of long-range flights in international air space on Aug 17. Russia's head of strategic aviation General Pavel Androsov has said the aircraft will not carry nuclear weapons and that the main aim of the flights was to improve training for pilots.
In recent months, Russian bombers have been detected flying over the North Atlantic in international airspace, near Norway
and Britain. It is broadly seen as a demonstration that its military is again potent, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union left it with few resources.
Last Thursday (Oct 26), two Russian strategic bombers where on an unusual practice and came close to the Netherlands
, where NATO
defense ministers were meeting.
Due to bad weather, the Norwegian military did not send F-16 fighters to intercept the first planes, but the F-16s scrambled to intercept tow Tupolev 160s that were on their return trip north.