Norwegian F-35s intercepted Russian bombers and fighters as they approached NATO airspace, according to the alliance’s Air Command.
NATO Air Command reported yesterday that the state-of-the-art aircraft scrambled to meet two Russian Tu-160 bombers, two MiG-31 jets, and two Il-78 tankers flying close to allied airspace.
In an update on X (formerly Twitter), the air command said: “Norwegian F-35[s] scrambled yesterday from Evenes, Norway due to Russian aircraft flying close to NATO Allied airspace.
“The fifth generation fighters identified two Tu-160 Bombers, two MiG-31 and two Il-78 Midas. The Russian aircraft returned to Russia shortly after meeting the F-35s.”
The alarming encounter comes amid soaring tensions between NATO and Moscow and is one of many incidents where the adversaries have clashed.
While it’s likely Russian aircraft are testing NATO’s response time and not actually carrying out an attack, these incidents raise the probability of a mistake on either side which could escalate, potentially into conflict.
Since NATO stepped in to support Ukraine following Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 full-scale invasion, relations with Russia have hit lows not seen since the Cold War.
NATO allies have vowed continued support for Kyiv over the winter and beyond meaning any cooling of tensions between Russia and the West appears unlikely.