Norway’s new F-35 stealth fighter jets intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and one MiG-31 fighter jet flying in international airspace south of the so-called GIUK gap (Greenland-Iceland-UK), officials said.
According to a statement issued Saturday by Norwegian Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force) Russian one Tu-142MK and one Tu-142MR escorted by MiG-31 fighter jet came from the north and were first noticed by the air control station in Sorreisa, northern Norway, the Joint Head Quarters informs.
“The Armed Forces yesterday established reinforced extra F-35 preparedness from Orland air station to enhance sovereignty,” said Chief of the Norwegian Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland.
Flying wing-by-wing, the event in the skies outside Norway on Saturday is historic. This is the first time Norway’s new F-35s were identifying Russian planes.
Even further south, two British Typhoon fighter jets took over the mission to monitor the Russian planes.
Norway currently has 15 F-35s in its inventory and has ordered a total of 52 of the fifth-generation fighters to gradually replace its fleet of F-16s, which have been in service since the early 1980s.
More than 490 aircraft, including 134 in 2019, have been delivered and are operating from 21 bases around the globe. More than 975 pilots and 8,585 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 240,000 cumulative flight hours.