January 6, 2011 (by Bjørnar Bolsøy) - The Royal Norwegian Air Force made half as many scrambles to identify Russian aricraft in 2010 compared to the previous year.
RNoAF F-16AM #660 from FLO is rocketing to the sky at Kjevik AP on April 7th, 2008. [Photo by Sten Arne Bryde]
In all the arctic F-16s got airborne 36 times and identified 37 Russian planes, according to the Norwegian broadcasting service NRK.no. This follows the trend over the past two years. In 2009, 77 aircraft were identified against 87 in 2008.
The lower activty is linked to changes in Russian air operations. The Russians have moved its air base for escorting fighters. Flights and training activity follow more north- and western routes into the Norwegian Sea and North Sea, outside the normal sphere of interest of the RNoAF
There were no reported violations of Norwegian airspace in 2010. There were also no indications that Norwegian targets were the focus of Russian training activities, as it was in 2007 and 2008.
Russia resumed patrols in the Barents region in 2007 after an extended layoff that followed the end of the Cold War. In 2007, NATO
fighter jets scrambled 47 times and identified 88 strategic Russian bombers.