The Northern Flank D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II


Sweden’s entry in the war brought operational consequences, as well as potential benefits and advantages for NATO and Soviet forces operating on the Northern Flank. These directly affected the air forces operating in the north on D+10 and beyond. The Swedish emergence from neutrality opened up the airspace of northern Sweden to all combatants. Soviet bombers would now have the advantage of being able to cut across northern Finland and Sweden, making the prospect of attacking airbases, radar sites, and other valuable military targets in central Norway without suffering severe losses very real. This avenue of approach was destined to eventually become a two-way street. Although Sweden was not a formal member of NATO, there would be cooperation between the two. This was one topic negotiated at length between Swedish and NATO diplomats and military officers on D+9 in Brussels. Details, and operational requirements were being worked out. Swedish and Finnish airspace would be open to NATO aircraft by the end of the day.

The initial Soviet air attacks against airbases and radar sites in northern Sweden following Prime Minister Carlsson’s speech had been anticipated by the Swedish military. Under the Bas 90 system, Swedish fighters had been dispersed away from their main airbases to numerous smaller wartime bases. The concept had been created to protect the Swedish Air Force from air attacks, and prevent it from being destroyed on the ground early in a conflict. Those first Soviet airstrikes were aimed at the major airbases in northern Sweden: Lulea, and Vidsel, and radar stations in the region. Swedish Viggens rose to defend the airspace but the Soviets had expected this and restricted the first wave of airbase attacks to Badgers and Backfires launching AS-6 Kitchens from points over northern Finland. The Swedish fighters streaked north to intercept and clashed with MiG-25 Foxbats that, from their high-speed, low level approach fit the flight profile of Su-24 Fencers. The trickery paid off, occupying the Swedish fighters and preventing them from getting close to the bombers. Later in the morning, actual Fencers made their first appearance over Sweden, targeting radar stations, and command posts.

In Norway, combat air patrols over the center of the country, and vital airbases such as Bodo were strengthened in anticipation of heavy Soviet airstrikes coming in by way of northern Sweden. NATO fighter-bombers, and attack aircraft went into action against Andoya, and Soviet positions around the airbase starting early in the morning. NATO air superiority over Andoya had been fully achieved by 0800. The attacks continued until 1100 when US Marines started their main assault on the base. At that point the emphasis shifted to close air support. A-10 Warthogs of the 356th Tactical Fighter Squadron, recently arrived from Myrtle Beach AFB, saw their first action in the northern theater.

In the afternoon when Royal Marines staged a surprise assault against Banak Air Station the air picture over northern Norway had shifted decisively in NATO’s favor. The bomber corridor that the Soviets had established over the north was shifted north to a point right above the North Cape. The move came about when priorities changed for Soviet commanders following a rude surprise. Four A-6E Intruders from USS Kitty Hawk, now ensconced in the Norwegian fjords, struck an ammunition depot at Svetly, 20 miles from the Finnish-Soviet border. The Intruders flew across northern Finland, hit the depot, and were gone before Soviet fighters showed up. The unimpressive reaction, combined with the fact that US carrier-based aircraft were now in striking distance of the Kola caused Northwestern TVD to immediately shift his priorities. Air defense of the Kola now trumped air superiority over northern Norway, and if necessary, bomber escort. The theater commander and his subordinates also recognized the harsh reality they personally faced. A major attack against the ports and airfields on the Kola by US carrier aircraft would seal their fates. They’d be relieved of duty, be scapegoated, and then spend the rest of their lives counting trees in Siberia. If they were lucky.

For this reason, more so than any commitment to the state, Northwestern TVD was determined to not allow another American bomb to land on the Kola Peninsula for the rest of the war.



7 Replies to “The Northern Flank D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. Wel, the strike by A-6 against Kola targets means that any subsequent attack against US carriers would be done with nuclear warheads.
    And also there would be series of nuclear-tipped missile attacks by Backfires and Badgers from above the Sweden against NATO airbases in Norway, just to wipe them out. Sweden can also count on a few “mushrooms” arising here and there…

    BTW: AS-6 is Kingfish; Kitchen is AS-4.
    AS-6 was carried by Tu-16 only; AS-4 was carried by Tu-22M Backfire, Tu-22K Blinder and Tu-95K Bear.

    BTW2: in order to make sure the Sweden is not so daring, the best way would be sed the group of bombers (the best would be those concentrated above Riga, or even closer) to strike at the Parliament, the Royal palace, the Govt building and the Armed Forces HQ/MoD to paralyze the Swedish chain of command.
    In fact a group of Backfires with (nuclear-tipped) Kitchens, escorted by MiG-31s fro Leningrad, could wait near Gotland for a signal; at the very first words of Swedish PM declaring his country at war with USSR, the missiles should be fired upon these mentioned targets.

    The result would be almost guaranteed death of the whole Swedish top officials and “beheading” of their country. And pretty much shocking enough for the Swedes to back from the war… as well for the Norwegians too…

    Liked by 1 person

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