Ukraine conflict: Russian warplanes enter Swedish airspace

by Gareth Jennings

Four Russian warplanes entered Swedish airspace on 2 March. (Swedish Armed Forces)

Russian combat aircraft entered Swedish airspace on 2 March, close to the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

Announced by the Swedish Armed Forces, the incursion saw a pair of Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Sukhoi Su-27/30-series ‘Flanker' multirole combat aircraft and two Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer' strike aircraft enter national airspace during bilateral Swedish and Finnish exercises in the area.

“The Russian violation of Swedish airspace is of course completely unacceptable,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist was quoted as saying by TT News Agency. “It will lead to a firm diplomatic response from Sweden. Swedish sovereignty and territory must always be respected.”

Images of the event were taken by Swedish Air Force (SwAF) JAS 39 Gripen fighters, which intercepted and shadowed the offending aircraft until they returned to international airspace.

The incursion happened as Stockholm and Helsinki have pledged military assistance to Kyiv as Ukraine plans to counter Russia's renewed invasion of the country. The Partnership for Peace countries have also raised the increased possibility of both joining the NATO alliance in the wake of the war in Ukraine, with Moscow threatening ‘consequences' should they do so.

For some years already, Russian aircraft have incurred the air defence identification zones (ADIZs) of NATO and allied air forces, but to date have always stopped short of flying into a country's territorial airspace, which makes this event highly unusual.

Thailand seeks full squadron of F-35s by 2034

by Akhil Kadidal

The Royal Thai Air Force has sent a letter to the US government asking for the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35A fifth-generation fighters. Acquisition of the aircraft could prompt the RTAF to retire old fighter types in service, such as Northrop F-5s and Lockheed Martin F-16A/Bs. (US Air Force/Captain Kip Sumner)

Thailand has expressed an interest in having at least 12 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters in service by 2034.

A source in the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has told Janes that these numbers include an initial batch of two F-35As that the RTAF is hoping to acquire between 2026 and 2027. The source added that the RTAF has sent a letter to the US government asking for the procurement of this initial batch. “The letter was sent in September 2021,” the source said.

Janes has learnt that the potential procurement has been divided into three phases. During Phase 2 of the acquisition, the RTAF said it seeks to acquire four F-35s. The RTAF hopes to acquire the final batch of six F-35s by 2032.


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Ukraine conflict: Kyiv strikes deep into Russia

by Gareth Jennings

A Tu-22M bomber of the type damaged in a strike on Ryazan-Dyagilevo airbase. Two Tu-95s were also reported damaged after Engels-2 airbase was hit on the same day. (Tupolev)

Ukraine has conducted a series of airstrikes deep into Russian territory, targeting strategic bomber bases and a military airfield.

Strikes were recorded at three locations hundreds of kilometres inside Russia on 5 and 6 December, resulting in some casualties, as well as damaged aircraft and facilities.

Engels-2 and Ryazan-Dyagilevo airbases were struck within hours of each other on 5 December, with Kursk Airport coming under attack on 6 December. Engels-2 is about 600 km east of Ukrainian controlled territory, and home to Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear' and Tu-160 ‘Blackjack' bombers, while Ryazan-Dyagilevo is about 500 km east of Ukrainian controlled territory, and home to Tupolev Tu-22M ‘Backfire' bombers and Ilyushin Il-78 ‘Midas' aerial refuelling aircraft. Kursk Airport is about 250 km east of Ukrainian controlled territory, with no military aircraft permanently stationed there.


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Update: Russia-China moving towards closer bomber co-operation

by Akhil Kadidal

The joint Russia-China bomber flight conducted on 30 November is the fifth such event in the last three years. It prompted a major show of force from countries in the region. The US Air Force scrambled at least two Lockheed Martin F-22s to intercept the bomber force. (US Air Force)

In a boost to interoperability, long-range Chinese and Russian bombers landed in each other's airbases for the first time, as part of a joint air patrol.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD), the drills began on the morning of 30 November. Two Chinese H-6K bombers were observed as they flew over the East China Sea.

“After passing through the Tsushima Strait, [the Chinese aircraft] advanced into the Sea of Japan [East Sea]. It was confirmed that it flew north towards the continent,” the MoD said in a statement.


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Russian combat aircraft entered Swedish airspace on 2 March, close to the island of Gotland in the B...

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