Tag Archives: F-16A

NATO Scrambled Fighters 370 Times in 2021

Via NATO Air Command:

NATO fighter jets scrambled around 370 times across Europe in 2021, mostly to check aircraft flying unannounced near Allied air space.

Around 80 percent of the missions, 290 in total, were in response to flights by Russian military aircraft.

Russia Air Force Ilyushin Il-78 Midas, RF-94269, and a German Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoon over the Baltic. In related news, Germany declared the MBDA-made Meteor missile ready for use by the Luftwaffe in the summer of 2021

An Italian F-35 intercepts a really modded Russian Ilyushin Il-18, the rare EW/COMINT sniffing Ilyushin IL-22PP Porubschik (RF-90786), near Allied airspace in the Baltic Sea Region. The Italian Air Force was the first to deploy 5th Gen fighters in Baltic Air Policing. Photo courtesy of Italian Air Force.

Classic-on-classic! Early 1980s F-16A Fighting Falcon fighter jets of the Portuguese Air Force out of Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, intercepted Russian military aircraft, including a newly modernized Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear bomber, during an Air Policing mission over the Baltic, November 2021.

Last year’s figures are actually down from 2020, as noted by the alliance in December 2020:

NATO air forces across Europe scrambled more than 400 times in 2020 to intercept unknown aircraft approaching Alliance airspace. Almost 90 percent of these missions – around 350 – were in response to flights by Russian military aircraft.

Operation Allied Sky

A Minot-marked 5th BW B-52H and vintage Belgian Air Force F-16As last Friday, as part of the Buff’s 30-nations-in-one-day tour. 

Even while about half of the USAF’s meager Stratofortress pool was greatly disrupted by the temporary relocation of B-52s from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana to escape Hurricane Laura, a flight of six B-52Hs– forward-deployed 5th Bomb Wing Bomber Task Force (BTF) ships operating from RAF Fairford after flying cross-continental from Minot on 22 August — overflew every single one of the 30 NATO member states last Friday while being escorted in turn by a rotating force of 80 fighters belonging to 19 European air forces and Canada.

Most importantly, they did it all in a single day.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said:

“Today’s training event demonstrates the United States’ powerful commitment to NATO, and Allied solidarity in action. As US bombers overfly all 30 NATO Allies in a single day, they are being accompanied by fighter jets from across the Alliance, boosting our ability to respond together to any challenge. Training events like this help ensure that we fulfill our core mission: to deter aggression, prevent conflict, and preserve peace.”

Of course, the Russians also buzzed the B-52s as they operated over the Black Sea, popping by with Su-27s. The below Russian Ministry of Defense video shows that briefly, ending with a clip of a different series of intercepts buzzing a Danish Challenger, a Swedish Gulf Stream, and an RC-135 over international air space in the Baltic.

Here is the B-52 intercept from the view of the U.S. side of things, showing the Russian antics.