Norwegian Air Force F-35As carry out first live Intercept

Fourth and fifth generation aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) intercepted a large group of Russian aircraft on October 27. This was the first ever live intercept carried out by RNoAF F-35As in their own airspace.

Both RNoAF F-16A Block 20 MLUs and F-35As scrambled to the north coast of Norway to intercept two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers, multiple Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound and Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer fighters, and a single Beriev A-50 Mainstray reconnaissance aircraft. A

Blackjack and Foxbat
A Russian Air Force TU-160 Blackjack and Mig-31 Foxbat fly in formation during the interception. RNoAF photo 

Due to the Russian aircraft not filing flight plans or making any contact with civilian air traffic control, the RNoAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) F-16s at Bodø Main Air Station in Bodø, and QRA F-35As at Evenes Air Station in northern Norway all reacted to the Russian activity.  

RNoAF F-16
Norwegian F-16A MLUs operate out of Bodø Main Air Station providing QRA for the north of the NATO Air Policing system. RNoAF photo


A Norweigian Lockheed P-3 Orion was already operating in the area on a training mission and helped identify the Russian A-50. The aircrews conducted a visual identification of the Russian aircraft in a safe manner and within the regulations of international law.  

RNoaf F-35A
A RNoAF F-35A flies over Norway's high North region. The F-35 will be taking over QRA responsibility from January 2022. RNoAF photo

The two F-35s that scrambled from Evenes are currently undergoing a training exercise with an objective to prepare for the F-35A to take over the Norweigan QRA role from the F-16. The handover of the QRA responsibility is scheduled for January 2022.