“What the hell!” That was the reaction of a Norwegian fighter pilot as a Russian MiG-31 unexpectedly passed in front of his F-16.
The incident was caught on tape and is the latest example of what Norway says is the risk its fighter pilots run in carrying out quick reaction missions along the country’s sprawling coastline. In recent months, Russia has stepped up its military activity, and Western military forces have repeatedly had to scramble jets to intercept formations of Russian planes passing near their airspace.
Brynjar Stordal, a spokesman for the Norwegian armed forces, wrote in an email that it was unclear whether “this incident was caused by the Russian pilot miscalculating the distance to the Norwegian fighter, or if it was an intentional maneuver.” Norwegian defense officials have declined to say when the incident took place.
NATO has said that intercepts of Russian military flights by alliance fighter jets have sharply increased compared to last year, and Norway’s decision to release video of this incident is the latest example of the risks posed by large numbers of such missions.
Then again, so far the Russians haven’t tried re-enacting any scenes out of Top Gun, unlike their Chinese counterparts.