Speak to the majority of military personnel with experience of the Cold War and most will confirm that Russian air force and naval activities that push the boundaries of what is acceptable in terms of patrolling towards other nations and in their territorial boundaries are at virtually the same levels as back then.
So called ‘air policing’ by military aircraft from NATO nations has been increased steadily to meet this challenge. Air policing is when aircraft are ‘scrambled’ to intercept military and civilian aircraft that are not following standard international flight regulations and whose course is likely to take them into NATO airspace. From the North Sea to the Baltic, and now eastern Europe with the strengthening of NATO’s members there to face the huge Russian military build-up of all forces around the borders of Ukraine.
Released on 4 February by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the attached picture shows the Russian Air Force conducting air-to-air refuelling over the Barents Sea of one of its long-range (and very noisy) Tupolev TU-95MS (Bear) strategic bomber / maritime patrol aircraft by an Ilyushin IL-78 (Midas).
According to a 4 February NATO Allied Air Command statement: “Since 2014, the NATO Alliance has implemented ‘assurance measures’ with the goal to assure the Allies along the eastern flank.”
For example, RAF Typhoon aircraft have participated in the Baltic air policing mission five times since 2014; three times in Estonia (2015, 2016 and 2019) and twice in Lithuania (2014 and 2020).
With the increase in tension, NATO has increased its defensive measures by sending troops and air power into eastern member states.
by Andrew Drwiega