Russia to resume bomber patrols

Friday, August 17, 2007

US Navy F-14 Tomcat escorts a Russian Tupolev Tu-95
Image: HJ32.

Russia is planning to resume a Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has said. Mr Putin said the move to resume the flights after a 15 year suspension was in response to security threats posed by other military powers.

"I made a decision to restore flights of Russian strategic bombers on a permanent basis, and at 00:00 today, August 17, 14 strategic bombers, support aircraft and aerial tankers were deployed. Combat duty has begun, involving 20 aircraft."

Mr. Putin said, speaking on the final day of military exercises involving Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries in the south Urals, said that on the first day of patrol flight, bomber planes would spend about 20 hours in the air, with midair refueling, and would interact with naval forces.

The Russian president added that although the country stopped strategic flights to remote regions in 1992, "Unfortunately, not everyone followed our example." Other states' long-distance strategic patrol flights have created certain problems for national security, he said.