Russia Ups Air Activity in Europe

Russia intensified air exercises over Europe this week, forcing NATO to scramble British, Danish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Turkish fighters, Alliance officials said. “NATO detected and monitored four groups of Russian military aircraft conducting significant military maneuvers in European airspace over the Baltic Sea, North Sea/Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea,” stated an Oct. 30 NATO release. “These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” according to the release. Allied fighters intercepted a total of 26 Russian combat aircraft, including two flights of TU-95 strategic bombers supported by tanker aircraft and fighter escorts off Norway, Britain, and Portugal on Oct. 29. F-16s scrambled over the Baltic to investigate a group of strike aircraft the same day, mimicking a similar strike group the preceding day. “NATO has conducted over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft in 2014 to date, which is about three times more than were conducted in 2013,” officials stated in the release.