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Finland: ‘Unusually Intense Russian Air Activity’ Over Baltic

Undated photo of a Tupolev Tu-95 Bear Bomber. Finnish Defense Forces Photo

Undated photo of a Tupolev Tu-95 Bear Bomber. Finnish Defence Forces Photo

Russian aircraft have stepped up flights over the Baltic Sea to the country’s exclave in Kalliningrad in the last week, according to a Tuesday statement from Finnish Defence Forces.

Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets have intercepted and observed a variety of Russian aircraft, including Tupolev Tu-95 Bear and Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bombers and Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback, Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound fighters.

“Air activity intensified on December 6 and has continued during the first days of the week. No violations of Finnish airspace have been observed,” read the statement.
“Most Russian packages have departed from bases within Russia’s mainland and headed towards the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, to return via the same general routing.”

Undated photo of two Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback fighters. Finnish Defence Forces Photo

Undated photo of two Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback fighters. Finnish Defence Forces Photo

The aircraft have not violated Finnish air space and the country, “has stepped up the air policing of its airspace and adjusted its identification flight effort to meet the demands. The Air Force has launched F/A-18 Hornets to identify all significant targets,” read the statement.

In August, a Russian Antonov AN-72 transport crossed into Finnish airspace in addition to several other airspace violations.

Since the Russian seizure of Crimea and the subsequent deteriorating relationship with the West, Russian aircraft have been flying more around the world.

Undated photo of two Tupolev+Tu-22M Backfire bombers. Finnish Defense Forces Photo

Undated photo of two Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bombers. Finnish Defense Forces Photo

“They’re pretty active in the air — their long-range flights and reconnaissance,” U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said in October.
“They’re probably more active than they’ve been in a decade in that regard. They have operating money, clearly, they are out and about.”

As of October, NATO has had more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft in 2014 — three times higher than 2013, U.S. defense official told USNI News at the time.

Categories: Aviation, Foreign Forces, News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute.
He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. In his role he covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Sam is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Military Institute.