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Russian bombers again cloud skies in Europe’s far north

September 2, 2008

In scenes reminiscent of the Cold War, Russian bombers have returned to the skies in Europe’s far north after years of absence, putting NATO’s jet fighters on alert once again.

At the Bodoe airbase, above the Arctic circle, two F-16s are always on call, ready to take off in less than 15 minutes for stand-offs with surprise visitors from Norway’s eastern neighbour.

“We have noticed a clear rise in Russian aerial activity over the past year,” said base air commander general Per Egil Rygg.

“This has given us a lot more to do,” he added.

In 2006, Norwegian F-16s carried out 13 emergency take-offs to “identify”, as the military jargon goes, 14 Russian planes.

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