Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A jets achieved another first over the weekend by escorting their first Russian military aircraft while on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty.
Two F-35s, which were providing support for F-16 jets that usually perform QRA, scrambled from the Ørland air station to intercept a Tupolev Tu-142 anti submarine warfare aircraft (NATO name: Bear J) and at least one Mig-31.
The Russian aircraft were first intercepted by F-16 jets from Bodø air base, before the F-35s took over. As the Tu-142 and Mig-31 continued south, British Typhoons continued escorting the aircraft over the North Sea.
Worth noting is that the intercept was not performed by Norwegian F-35s that were deployed to Iceland in February this year, in support of NATO airborne surveillance missions.
Norway declared initial operational capability for the F-35s in November last year, while a full operational capability is expected to be achieved by 2025. The fifth-generation fighter jets are scheduled to take over air policing tasks from the F-16 in 2022.