Although some Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers flew over the Baltic Sea in the last year, what’s unusual in Mar. 29 incident is that the Russian activity took place at night and, above all, it found the Swedish Air Force totally unprepared.
At least two JAS-39 Gripen should always be in a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and ready for take off in case of alarm, but quite surprisingly there were no interceptors ready on Good Friday night.
However, since 2004, NATO has a QRA detachment in Lithuania’s First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport, whose aim is to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The task is shared by several NATO members; since Jan. 2013, the Baltic air policing task is assigned to the Royal Danish Air Force.
On Mar. 29, two RDAF F-16 fighter jets took off from Siuliai to shadow the Russian bombers and fighters from distance as the formation headed east towards Russia.
Analysts believe the massive restructuring process that downsized the Swedish Air Force — from 20 squadrons and over 400 planes to four divisions and less than 150 planes — is to blame for the lack of preparedness of the Swedish air defense.
Remember, Russia is the friend of NATO. That is why it regularly simulates bomber attacks on NATO countries. And why isn’t NATO doing the same thing to Russia? Instead, NATO just yawns and cuts it budget.
Related articles: Russian Bomber Simulated Attacks
Europe’s Shrinking Military Budgets Scrutinized – NYTimes.com
Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany’s entire military budget, endangering the alliance’s viability, its mission and its relationship with the United States.
Senior American officials have warned that unless European countries spend more on defense, they risk “collective military irrelevance.”
While the United States would like to be able to rely more on its European allies, many experts doubt that even the strongest among them, Britain and France, could carry out their part of another Libya operation now, and certainly not in a few years. Both are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent.
“Either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner,” a senior American official said.
The US wants Britain to drop its nuclear deterrent. But the US is in the process of dropping its nuclear deterrent. The US has already crossed a red line in that it can only retaliate one time against a Russia-China attack. Who in the West is going to protect us from Russia and China: France and Israel? OK, the West is not there yet, but that is the direction it is headed.
With a Russia-China axis starting to grow, the West and in particular the US needs to be concerned.
The Russia-China Axis Grows | FrontPage Magazine
Russia is executing its own “pivot to Asia”—something Moscow highlighted when hosting the 24th APEC summit in Vladivostok last fall. Like China, Russia also has an island dispute of its own with Japan over the Kuril Islands. As Beijing takes a hard line with its quarrel, the two could join forces to exert pressure on Japan and lend international credibility to each other’s territorial claims. Yet Russia is pursuing a rapprochement with Japan, Korea and Vietnam, indicating that it may be weary of the rising giant of China.
A China-Russia partnership is championing a selective commitment to “noninterference in internal affairs.” which plays well with the other authoritarian regimes around the world. They seek arms contracts and economic ties while looking the other way on nations’ human rights abuses.