So far this year, Norwegian Air Force
F-16s have had to scramble 29 times to intercept Russian heavy bombers headed
for Norwegian air space. There have been at least as many Russian bombers that
did not warrant an F-16 intercept. One of the Tu-22 bombers was carrying a
cruise missile, and several of the bombers appeared to be practicing maneuvers
carried out prior to firing a cruise missile. During the Cold War, Russian Navy
bombers frequently practiced such maneuvers, which were meant for any American
warships that might threaten Soviet naval bases in the event of a war, as well
as Norwegian air bases near the Russian border.
In the 1990s, the Russian navy halted nearly all of
these training flights. But in the last seven years, the flights have gradually
resumed, and are now at Cold War levels.