On May 6, Russia received its first shipment of Sukhoi Su-34 twin-seat fighter-bombers (known by NATO as "Fullback"). The Su-34 is the newest generation of fighter-bombers intended to replace the outdated Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-24s.
While the modernization of the Russian Air Force may — and rightfully so — raise a few eyebrows of concern, this alone is not sufficient cause for alarm. Russia’s recent air force maneuvers are, however.
On the night of March 29, 2013, two Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers (known by NATO as "Backfires"), escorted by four Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighters (known by NATO as "Flankers") passed extremely close to Swedish airspace and simulated an aerial "attack" on Stockholm and southern Sweden. The Tu-22M3 is a new supersonic long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons to overseas targets.
The six Russian aircraft flew dangerously close to Swedish airspace, roughly 20 miles from Sweden’s territorial borders, according to Business Insider.
While Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic has become routine since Russian President Vladimir Putin restored the old Soviet-era long-range strategic flights in 2011, what makes this particular flight so concerning was Sweden’s lack of readiness. The Swedish Air Force was caught off guard and failed to respond.
The flights occurred on Good Friday at around 2 a.m. local time. Business Insider reported that “at least two JAS-39 Gripen should always be in a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and ready for take off in case of alarm, but quite surprisingly there were no interceptors ready on Good Friday night.”
Instead of Swedish fighters, two Danish F-16 fighter jets under NATO command intercepted and escorted the Russian planes safely away from Sweden’s borders.
Click here to read the entire article.