The Royal Norwegian Air Force [RNoAF] sprang into action to stave off Russian planes edging toward NATO borders, according to a statement released via NATO’s European Command Twitter account.
- In Norway, 12 deeply modernized combat-ready F-16s are aging
- Raytheon and Kongsberg agreed to make next-generation NASAMS
- Norwegian F-35s refuel in ‘hot pit’ and deploy from highways
The tweet from NATO’s European Command revealed that the interception took place on November 16. Launched from Evenes in Norway, the Norwegian F-35 was tasked with the mission. The Russian contingent consisted of six aircraft in total: three Tu-160 bombers, accompanied by two MiG-31 and two Il-78 Midas.
“F-35 scrambled yesterday from Evenes, Norway due to Russian aircraft flying close to NATO Allied airspace. The Norwegian 5th Gen fighters identified 2 Tu-160 Bombers, 2 MiG-31 & 2 Il-78 Midas. The Russian Aircraft returned to Russia shortly after meeting the F-35s,” the message said.
Norwegian F-35 on the highways
In an unprecedented move, the Norwegian Air Force set a European benchmark in September when their F-35s followed the US example and began operating from highways- a tactic previously unthinkable. This strategic act could revolutionize the way that aircraft survival is approached during major conflicts when conventional airbases are under threat.
Major General Rolf Folland, the leading figure in the Royal Norwegian Air Force, has hailed this development as a breakthrough not just for Norway, but for the entirety of the Nordic countries and NATO as a whole.
Major General Folland emphasizes the power of diversification. By utilizing smaller airfields and now, highways, the Air Force can enhance their resilience during wartime. This is crucial as stationary fighter jets are notably vulnerable to ground attacks.
The groundbreaking move to initiate F-35A operations from highways is part of a larger cooperative effort with Finland, NATO’s latest member country. In a particularly noteworthy event during these exercises, Norwegian F-35s were refueled on Finnish motorways while the aircraft’s engines remained running. termed as “hot pit” refueling, this method greatly reduces the time needed to relaunch the aircraft, thus enhancing operational efficiency.
Despite its lesser fuel efficiency, “hot pit” refueling reduces sortie rates and curtails vulnerability. This is achieved by cutting down on the time an aircraft stays on the ground, providing an added layer of security.
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