Several Russian bombers, an early warning and control aircraft, and several other military planes flew into Norwegian early-identification zone on Wednesday.
NATO asked Norway to scramble the F-35 on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) from Evenes airport to identify the military planes flying out to international airspace over the Barents Sea from the Kola Peninsula, the Air Force spokesperson Stine Barclay Gaasland stated.
Two F-35s had take-off around 9 am. They identified one Russian Mainstay outside the coast of Finnmark, Barclay Gaasland informed media.
For the first time since the base took over the NATO mission from Norway’s F-16s flying out of Bodø, that the F-35 from Evenes intercepted the Russian aircrafts.
Mainstay is the NATO classification of Russia’s Beriev A-50, an aircraft easy to recognize because of its giant flat radar on the roof. The aircraft serves as an airborne early warning and control platform and has on several occasions followed strategic bombers outside Norwegian airspace in the north.
The group [of Russian aircraft] separated, some returned to the Kola Peninsula, while others continued south, Stine Barclay Gaasland stated.
As the strategic bombers flew south towards the North Sea, another pair of F-35s were scrambled from Ørland airbase.