A Russian jet fighter came within a mere 60 feet of a NATO F-16 in an incident that could have ended with a disastrous mid-air collision in the skies over Norway — and the Norwegian military caught the whole frightening encounter on video. Norway made the incredible video public on Sunday, to add visual proof of Russia’s increasing military brinksmanship.
The video is viewable above. According to the Norwegian military, the plane that appears directly in front of the Norwegian NATO F-16 in the video is a Russian Mig-31, during an incident in which Norway scrambled two of its own jet fighters to intercept a Russian fighter jet flying in international airspace, but dangerously close to Norway.
The Wall Street Journal reported the incident, and posted the video on Monday, saying that Norway’s military declined to say when the potentially deadly encounter — in which the Russian fighter jet cuts off the F-16 like a bad driver on the freeway — actually occurred, only that it illustrated the growing risk from Russian jets engaging in hazardous fly-bys near NATO territory.
“We could have had a collision between the aircraft,” said Norwegian Armed Forces spokesperson Brynjar Stordal. “The pilot has a spontaneous reaction in the video, and both his comment and the evasive maneuver indicate that this is unwanted. We don’t know if this was a mistake by the Russian pilot, or a sign of a more aggressive behavior by the Russians.”
On the video, the pilot is heard to say, in Norwegian, “What the hell?” as the Russian jet suddenly appears in front of his F-16, forcing him to take sudden evasive action to avoid a mid-air catastrophe.
In the final days of October, Norwegian jets intercepted two Russian jet fighters off Finnmark in North Norway. But that incident was remarkable for the fact that the Russian jets in that case were not the standard MiGs, as in the video released Sunday, but were actually Su-34 jets — the latest and most powerful jets to join the Russian Air Force, added only earlier this year.
In that incident, Norway took and released photos of the state-of-the-art Russian jet.
“The airplane type has been observed and identified by other NATO countries in other places before,” Stordal said at the time. “But we have never seen them in the northern areas, nor outside the coast of Norway before.”
But that incident clearly was not the same encounter with a Russian jet fighter that produced the near-miss documented in the video.