A flight of 11 Su-24 ‘Fencer’ strike aircraft took off from their air base on the frosty Kola Peninsula, flying out over the Arctic Barents Sea. But, suddenly, the supersonic aircraft swung about, sped up, and formed into an attack profile — aimed directly at a nearby Norwegian outpost. Only at the last possible moment did they veer away.
The target of the Russian attack aircraft was Vardo, Norway’s northernmost town. The fishing village is built on a small island in the Barents Sea. It’s an ideal vantage point from which to observe the concentration of Russian military facilities built on the nearby Kola Peninsula.
It also sits under the direct flight-path intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) would take if launched against the United States. Which is why Vardo is home to a powerful radar system designed to track rocket launches and objects in space.
The dramatic simulated attack happened on February 14th, 2018, Director of Norway’s Intelligence Service, Lieutenant General Morten Haga Lunde, told the audience in his annual speech for the Oslo Military Society on Monday.
A news report from the journalist owned Independent Barents Observer online newspaper claims that the group of Russian Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer tactical bombers simulated an attack on Norwegian Arctic radar.
Lieutenant General Morten Haga Lunde of the Norwegian Intelligence Service earlier this week revealed Russia staged two such practice attack runs last year. The intelligence director warned the provocative acts came as “Russia’s rhetoric against Norway has grown sharper”. He warned things were not likely to get any better in the year ahead.
According to the Barents Observer news service, Norwegian defence analyst Kristian Atland says he believed the attack run to have been a “deliberate and carefully planned Russian signalling operation”.
Morten Haga Lunde also added that the scenario of simulated attack was very similar to what took place on March 24th, 2017, but this time with more aircraft, in total 11 Fencer planes.
Russia is reportedly again jamming GPS signals in Norway’s far north, after several similar incidents last year. General Lunde also expressed concern that commercial and military aircraft were again reporting wayward navigational data.
Speaking at the release of Norway’s annual national risk assessment, he said efforts to track the cause of disruption pointed to sources across the border in Russia. The jamming also tended to coincide with military exercises, the most significant of which was last year’s NATO Trident Juncture manoeuvres.
The so-called Globus-II radar has for decades been a torn in relations between Moscow and Oslo. Officially the radar observes objects in space. It is also believed to be highly capable of monitoring and building a signature database of Russian ballistic missiles.