Video shows Russian jet flashing into view just 65ft from Norwegian plane
Norwegian F-16 pilot shouts ‘what the hell?!’ before veering sharply away
Near miss adds to mounting tensions between NATO states and Moscow
NATO reported 400 intercepts of Russian jets this year – up 50% on 2013
Dramatic footage has emerged showing a Norwegian air force pilot being forced into an emergency manoeuvre to avoid a mid-air crash with a Russian fighter jet.
In the video, released by Norway’s military, one of its pilots shouts ‘What the hell?!’ before veering away sharply as the Russian MiG-31 flashes into view, just 65 feet from the F-16.
‘The Russian pilot’s behaviour was not quite normal,’ said Norwegian armed forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal about the 26-second film clip released on Sunday.
The close encounter occurred in international airspace ‘north of Norway’ but the armed forces did not say when.
Unlike neighbouring non-aligned Sweden, Norway – a NATO member – has not reported any airspace incursions by Russia in recent years and gauges the level of Russian air force activity in the area as ‘pretty normal or a little more’ than usual.
A Russian MiG fighter plane like the one involved in the near miss with the Norwegian air force jet
Long-standing threat: A picture taken by the Royal Norwegian Airforce in July 2007 shows a Russian strategic bomber Tupolev Tu-95MS being escorted by a Norwegian F-16 while flying in international air space
In the video, released by Norway’s military, one of its pilots shouts ‘What the hell?!’ before veering away sharply as the Russian MiG-31 flashes into view, just 65 feet from the Norwegian F-16. File picture
So far this year, Norway has scrambled its air force 43 times to identify 69 Russian planes, compared to 41 incidents involving 58 planes in 2013.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that the alliance had reported 400 intercepts of Russian military flights so far this year – a 50 per cent increase compared to 2013.
He complained that Russian jets flying without sharing their flight plans posed a danger to commercial air traffic.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute also revealed ‘multiple incidents’ where Russian military aircraft had not filed flight plans nor spoken to civilian air traffic controllers and had turned off transponders that send information about the plane.
‘Danger to air traffic’: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (above) said last month that the alliance had reported 400 intercepts of Russian military flights so far this year – a 50 per cent increase compared to 2013
This made the planes virtually invisible to air traffic controllers, he told a news conference.
‘These Russian actions are irresponsible, pose a threat to civilian aviation and demonstrate that Russia is flagrantly violating international norms,’ he said.
Britain also voiced concern about Russian probing of its air space.
In late October, NATO said its aircraft tracked Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and sorties of fighters over the Baltic.
At sea, too, Russia has been more active, leading one NATO commander to draw comparisons with Cold War behaviour.
A squadron of Russian warships entered the English Channel on Friday.