CUTTING-EDGE Russian fighter jets carried out a strategic, planned flight over the Arctic on Wednesday, raising concerns over Russia’s growing military presence in the region.
Two Tu-160 strategic bombers undertook a 10-hour flight over the Barents and Norwegian Seas on Wednesday, drawing the attention of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
The Russian Defence Ministry issued a statement ahead of the flight, saying: “Two strategic Tu-160 Russia missile launchers are carrying out a scheduled flight over the neutral waters of the Barents and Norwegian seas.
“The total duration of the flight will be around ten hours, after which the Russian Air Force teams will carry out a landing at their base.
“Pilots regularly fly over natural waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Pacific.
“All Russian Air Force flights are conducted in strict conformity with international rules in relation to the use of aeronautical space, without violating the borders of other countries.”
The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the jets were shadowed by Norwegian F-16s during some stages of the flight, and noted both aircraft returned to their base following the exercise.
The Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft are supersonic, strategic bombers, which were the last models of their type to be designed for the Soviet Union.
They are the largest and heaviest Mach 2+ supersonic aircraft ever designed, and second longest behind the XB-70 Valkyrie.