Poking the Bear - US deployments on Russia's borders

The new Biden administration 'poking the bear', or a legacy of a long-planned deployment exercise? In either case. it will be interesting to follow what the B1's get up to in their time up north.

'The U.S. Air Force is sending four B-1s and 200 airmen to Norway in coming weeks, in a first-of-its-kind deployment for the huge, swing-wing bombers.

'The B-1s from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas will fly from Orland, an airfield in central Norway that also hosts Norwegian air force F-35 stealth fighters.

'Expect the bombers and fighters to spend several weeks training together alongside ships, planes and ground forces from across NATO, in particular the alliance’s northern members.

"Operational readiness and our ability to support allies and partners and respond with speed is critical to combined success," said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa commander.

'The cold-weather B-1 jaunt is a follow-up of sorts to last fall’s epic deployment of Air Force B-52s to the United Kingdom. Those bombers ranged all over Europe, training with allied fighters and luring Russian forces into intelligence-gathering traps.

'The point of the coming B-1 mission is clear. “This seems to be a concerted effort to back up our allies, and to begin applying pressure to the Russians in a manner they understand,” said Jerry Hendrix, a military expert and author of To Provide and Maintain a Navy.

“Bottom line is that this movement will get Putin's undivided attention,” Hendrix said.'


American B-1 Bombers Are En Route To Norway To Bother The Russians
 
Long planned deployment more likely.
 
Long planned deployment more likely.

Agree completely. Putting the logistics in-place, along with dip clearances and all the other admin requirements, particularly currently with all the COVID restrictions, would be an emergency measure only if it were being gone at speed. However, it won't stop some from portraying it as war-mongering by the new administration. Additionally, the Russian reaction, given the heightened internal tensions over Navalny, will be interesting to watch.
 
With Russian Bears and Blackjacks regulatory buzzing UK airspace, a planned operation to a fellow NATO country is hardly 'poking the bear'
 
With Russian Bears and Blackjacks regulatory buzzing UK airspace, a planned operation to a fellow NATO country is hardly 'poking the bear'

Except that the RFAF do it from home, not forward-deployed into the territorial landmass of a neighboring country. Both the Russians and NATO legally exercise their rights in international airspace, as they're allowed to. The point of this is that it gives Putin more media ammunition for domestic use about the aggressive intent of NATO, especially at a time when he's suppressing potential revolt over Navalny.
 

bob231

War Hero
There has been maritime activity for at least the last ten months, heading north into the Barents Sea. This feels a lot more like a long-term planned change in strategy.
 

4(T)

LE
Except that the RFAF do it from home, not forward-deployed into the territorial landmass of a neighboring country. Both the Russians and NATO legally exercise their rights in international airspace, as they're allowed to. The point of this is that it gives Putin more media ammunition for domestic use about the aggressive intent of NATO, especially at a time when he's suppressing potential revolt over Navalny.


Russia has been running hardline anti-NATO/anti-west propaganda 24/7 for years now, most of it completely nonsensical or fictitious.

Appeasing a tyrant by dismantling and withdrawing collective NATO defence is not going to make any difference to his internal messaging.

At least NATO countries don't go around murdering their opponents on foreign soil using WMD. Hardly the bear the one being poked!

Ditto China. albeit the threat there is at least an order of magnitude greater.
 
Russia has been running hardline anti-NATO/anti-west propaganda 24/7 for years now, most of it completely nonsensical or fictitious.

Appeasing a tyrant by dismantling and withdrawing collective NATO defence is not going to make any difference to his internal messaging.

At least NATO countries don't go around murdering their opponents on foreign soil using WMD. Hardly the bear the one being poked!

Ditto China. albeit the threat there is at least an order of magnitude greater.

All a matter of knowing the audience you're trying to influence. Take, for example, the first RAF Typhoon QRA intercept, which occurred in the run-up to the Russian Presidential 'election' in 2007.

For the RAF, a triumph for what had been seen as a white elephant in some UK defence (and chattering class) circles:

'Typhoon F2s took on their first operational duties on 29 June 2007, when they assumed responsibility for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) element of UK and NATO air defence in the southern part of the country at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

The photograph shows an RAF Typhoon from Number XI Squadron shadowing a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on 17 August 2007 [Picture: RAF]
'The photograph shows an RAF Typhoon from Number XI Squadron shadowing a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean on 17 August 2007
[Picture: RAF]

'Typhoons, the RAF’s newest fast jet aircraft, currently cover the UK Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) commitment together with Tornado F3 aircraft (which are based at RAF Leeming and RAF Leuchars).

'Over the next nine months, the Typhoons will progressively replace Tornado F3s, the aircraft which have performed this duty for many years.'



Apparently Russian media carried the same photo, thoughtfully provided by the MoD, with a story something along the lines of 'Aggressive NATO uses newest fighters to intercept 50-year old Russian aircraft on training mission'.
 
Update for the impending screaming headlines in the tabloids.

'Every action has a reaction. The U.S. Air Force in early February announced it would, for the first time, deploy B-1B bombers to Norway. Now the Russian air force is mobilizing its own warplanes. Fighters to intercept the B-1. And bombers to strike back.

'The four B-1s, from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, haven’t left yet. But U.S. Air Force cargo planes have begun staging equipment at Orland, an airfield in central Norway that also hosts Norwegian air force F-35 stealth fighters. American airmen already are on the ground in Norway.

'The cold-weather B-1 jaunt is a follow-up of sorts to last fall’s epic deployment of USAF B-52s to the United Kingdom. Those bombers ranged all over Europe, training with allied fighters and luring Russian forces into intricate intelligence-gathering traps. “The B-1Bs are getting old, but they do have a huge role to play against Russian and Chinese assets,” said Jerry Hendrix, a military expert and author of To Provide and Maintain a Navy. The B-1s are coming soon. In response, the Russian air force is training fighter crews to shoot down enemy bombers while also standing up a new bomber task force of its own. The bomber tit-for-tat is just the latest wrinkle in the bloodless conflict between the United States and Russia.

'After the U.S. Air Force announced the B-1 deployment, the Russian air force wasted no time sortieing its own bombers. Two of the service’s Tu-160 heavy bombers flew an epic, 12-hour sweep of Northern Europe, the Kremlin announced on Feb. 9. The 6,000-mile round-trip took the swing-wing Tu-160s from their base at Engels in western Russia north to the Arctic Ocean then west to Svalbard, south into the Norwegian Sea, east along the Norwegian coast and finally south back to Engels. A pair of MiG-31 interceptors flying from Rogachevo air base in northern Russian briefly escorted the bombers as they roared across the Kara Sea toward the Arctic.

'Russia’s roughly 50 western-facing Tu-95, Tu-22M and Tu-160 bombers routinely train over northern waters and probe NATO and Swedish air space. But they could fly more frequently, in greater numbers and more aggressively as part of the Kremlin’s response to the B-1 deployment. On Wednesday, the Russian air force launched a new Engels-based bomber operation involving Tu-160s and propeller-drive Tu-95s. “Tasks are being worked out, including conducting air patrols in a given zone,” the Kremlin announced. The operation appears to involve snap drills. When an alarm sounds, ground staff would prep and arm the bombers. Aircrews would race to their planes. The alert posture is reminiscent of the Cold War, when bomber squadrons on both sides of Iron Curtain were ready to drop atomic bombs with just a few minutes of advance notice.

'To be very clear, the B-1s strictly are not compatible with nuclear weapons. And Russia has not threatened to nuke NATO. Still, it’s clear that alert levels are on the rise. That escalating readiness extends to Russian fighter squadrons in Kaliningrad, Russia’s geographically-separate exclave on the Baltic Sea.

'Kaliningrad practically bristles with S-300 and S-400 air-defense missiles, Oniks anti-ship missiles and Iskander surface-to-surface missiles. It’s a Russian thorn in NATO’s side. The exclave, which hosts a fighter regiment flying around a dozen Su-27 fighters, is critical to Russian air-defenses along NATO’s northeastern flank—and U.S. Air Force planners know it. Two of the B-52s that staged in the United Kingdom last fall conducted a mock attack run on the exclave.

'Now the Kaliningrad Sukhoi pilots are getting special counter-bomber training. "The crews of the Su-27 will carry out the tasks of intercepting simulated aircraft that violate the borders of the Kaliningrad region, as well as launch missile launches at targets imitating cruise missiles and strategic bombers of the imaginary enemy,” said Roman Martov, a Russian military spokesman.

'The stage is set for a dramatic confrontation over northern Europe as American and Russian bombers probe opposing air-defenses and fighters scramble to intercept them. Each mock raid speaks to a broad audience. NATO signals to Russia its ability and willingness to fight. Russia signals rights back.

'But there are third parties watching, as well. Moscow’s new air op is a message to the world’s non-aligned countries, said Pavel Luzin, an expert on the Russian military. “It is a demonstration to other states in the world that Russia is an independent center of power,” Luzin said, “and may be an attractive partner to those who get into some political troubles with the West.”


The U.S. Air Force’s Norwegian Bomber Jaunt Has Got The Russians All Worked Up
 

Yokel

LE
With Russian Bears and Blackjacks regulatory buzzing UK airspace, a planned operation to a fellow NATO country is hardly 'poking the bear'

Add to that increased activity in the Atlantic by Russian submarines and naval aviation, harassment of NATO shipping, exercises with Chinese and Iranian forces, sales of weapons to proxies, murdering political opponents of the Putin regime in the UK using CBRN agents, disinformation at the time of a Global pandemic...
 
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