ENN Issue 9a
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ENN Issue 8b
Battle at Bodo

Russian Surprise Attack Overwhelms Norwegian Airport Defense

The following report was provided live via satellite phone by Jans Bergen, ENN's Sports Editor, shortly after an attack at the Bodo airport in Norway.

Bodo, NorwayENN ANCHOR: ...We have on the line ENN's Jans Bergen, who was in Norway to cover the Russian National Hockey team's arrival at Bodo airport.  Apparently something dramatic has occurred and we now bring him live via satellite phone. Jans, are you there..?

JANS: Yes, Marilee. I'm now on the road leading from the Bodo airport along with other civilian vehicles fleeing the scene.

ENN: What happened there, Jans? 

JANS: I arrived at the airport around 11:15 pm local time to get set up for a press conference with the Russian Hockey Team, who were arriving in Norway to face the Norwegian team later this week. 

They were suppose to touch down at around 11:45, but we started seeing some unusual activity by airport personnel around 11:30, and then the Russian aircraft came into view from the east a few minutes after that..

ENN: What kind of activity did you see?

JANS: Search lights were pointed at the airplane, just below the cockpit area of Aeroflot Flight 661.. a large 4 engine jet aircraft..  and on both the civilian and military sides of the complex we could see Military Police taking up defensive positions - primarily on the west end of the runway - and then a number of fuel and utility trucks moved up to block some of the taxiways at that end.

And as I said, the Aeroflot jetliner appeared in the distance around 11:34 or so, with a couple of F16 fighters on either side as it was coming in for a landing... and that's where everything went nuts...  

I was following the jet's descent through my camera's telephoto lens, and could see early on that the plane was not going to land properly... it was coming in way too steep and too slow to make the end of the runway.  Sure enough, it belly flopped onto the deep snow about two or three hundred meters short and skidded through the snow and then onto the runway - sliding to a stop maybe a quarter of the way down.

ENN: What happened then? Was the plane on fire?

JANS: No it wasn't on fire at first, but after a half minute or so I could make out people running from a rear ramp of the airplane - it may have been a converted cargo plane or something, as Russian passenger planes sometimes are - and others started coming out emergency exits along the sides.  Then I was surprised to see a couple of snow mobiles and two motorcycles or dirt bikes roar off that back ramp and begin racing towards the military section of the airport.

I wasn't sure if the plane had crashed for some reason or what was going on, but I figured out something unusual had occurred when I saw some distant explosions and then an antiaircraft gun near the scene of the crash opened up on the plane itself.  The snow banks along the runway are pretty high, and certainly too high for the gun crew to see the people who by now were mostly well away from the airplane, but the plane was definitely in sight and they began shooting at it.

ENN: The Norwegian guns were shooting at the plane? ..the one that crashed?

JANS: Yes, I could see there were some people still scrambling off and away from the plane just as it blew up.. likely when the fuel tanks ignited. We all hit the floor, but there was enough distance between us and the explosion that the windows just shook really hard. It was at that point that I trained my camera lens on the passengers that had escaped the blast, and saw they were armed with rifles or assault guns, and THEY were shooting too!

ENN: Who were they shooting at? What were the airport personnel doing?

JANS: Well, people inside the airport terminal were running all over the place and a lot of the staff appeared to be fleeing the building altogether. But outside we could see a few of the MPs on the other end of the runway firing their weapons, but their targets were about one thousand meters or more away so I doubt they hit much. 

Light from the passenger jet's fire made it easier to see that the source of the earlier explosions must have been three or four Norwegian fighter planes parked on the taxiway near where the Aeroflot plane ended up.  The passengers.. Russian soldiers I guess I should say... were swarming all around the destroyed fighters and dispersing towards the military complex. Another smaller group seemed to be positioned on the other side of the runway, firing towards that antiaircraft gun I think...

ENN: Could you still see those motorcycles and snowmobiles and where they went? 

JANS: Yes,  I was able to make out the snowmobiles since they were on the military side of the airport which is well lit. They actually didn't get very far because some low level fighters - F16s I'm sure - strafed and fired on them. The snowmobiles didn't explode, but they must have been hit because I saw one come to a stop and another hit a utility pole and there was no movement whatsoever after that by the drivers.

I scanned the airfield and saw the two motorcycles, one behind the other, racing westward along the runway. I was momentarily distracted by a couple of other fiery explosions up near where the earlier Norwegian jets had blown up, and when I looked back I saw that someone had driven a huge fuel truck onto the runway, right in the path of the motorcycles!  It looks like they riders tried to avoid the truck, but whether they slipped or just couldn't turn in time I'm not sure - both clipped or slammed into the truck and skidded a long ways down the runway before stopping. 

ENN: The riders.. did they get up at all? Were they armed?

JANS: I saw some equipment slide along near them, and I'm pretty sure I saw a large rifle of some sort, but the drivers didn't get up. No.

This was all within five minutes of the Russian plane's first appearance, and it was soon after the bikes went down that I saw some Norwegian F16s taxiing along the west end of the runway, furthest from most of the fighting.

ENN: Did they take off okay?

JANS: Well there were four attempts that I saw, and I'm not sure how much runway they normally need to lift off but they were really accelerating hard as soon as they got onto the runway - I'm sure they used afterburners and everything else they had. 

Unfortunately only one of the first pair made it... both were shot at by something.. maybe an RPG or anti-tank missile... SAM.. I'm not sure.. the first was missed and was able to lift off but the second took a hit near the tail and swerved off the pavement and into the snow alongside - whether because the pilot steered off on purpose or as a result of the hit I don't know...  

Two more pair of F16s took off right behind them - one in each lane - and I saw the forward one get hit for sure.. I think the pilot may have even ejected but I'm not certain...  The second just barely missed getting hit by a couple of missiles... they might have been heat seeking SAMs because the F16 was firing flares regularly as it struggled to gain altitude.  I managed to follow it for quite a while in the sky and it looked like it got away fine.

ENN: What was going on at that time between the ground forces?

JANS: I couldn't follow that very well. I could see some flashes of gunfire.. actually a lot of flashes.. but they were moving towards the better lit military side of the airfield opposite where I was, so I couldn't track them as well. I did see that the airfield's security forces - MPs and soldiers - were heading towards the Russian soldiers' locations, shooting as they went.

I watched as well as I could from where I lay on the floor of the terminal.. some other reporters stayed nearby but most had fled along with virtually all the airport staff.  But after five or more minutes some explosions started going off near the Control Tower and a large radar array across the runway from us on the military side. They weren't due to any enemy aircraft or missiles, since I would've seen them in the sky, so they had to be mortars of some sort.

The terminal was virtually empty at that point and the ground fighting was moving closer - almost parallel to us - so I decided I'd better leave while I had the chance.  I ran out to my car, fortunately parked nearby, and joined the convoy of vehicles fleeing the fighting.

I also noticed a few military vehicles and civilian cars heading towards the airport, and guess they may been nearby home guard or reserve soldiers intending to bolster the airport defenders.  However there were not very many of them and, based on the speed of the Russian attackers as they advanced along the airfield, I think they will be too little too late. 

In my opinion, the airport will fall to the Russians eventually and will stay that way until heavier armed Norwegian forces can arrive to take it back. And even if they do reclaim the airfield, there has been a lot of damage done to the facility and it will take a while before it can be up and running again.

ENN: Thank you Jans for that riveting report. Stay safe and contact us when you get more information for us.

JANS: Will do. 

 

End of report.


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