Russian air base in Armenia ready to open fire at NATO planes – TV report
Channel One TV, Moscow
4 May 04
Presenter Back in Soviet times airborne troops stationed in
Transcaucasia served as a reliable defence of the country’s southern
borders. In the mid-1990s Russia’s airspace in the area was left
without any defence. Armenia alone met Russia halfway and allowed for
the Russian Airborne Troops to remain on its territory.
Correspondent Aleksey Artemyev Fighters at the Russian air base
Erebuni have six minutes and not a second more to take off for a duty
flight and intercept a target that has illegally entered Armenia’s
airspace. The end of the runway and the border with the neighbouring
country are separated by a distance of 15 km. The neighbouring country
is Turkey, a NATO member state, with a great number of air bases
stationed on its territory, including those belonging to the USA.
Two years ago Russian pilots cut short an attempt by a high-speed spy
plane to enter Armenia’s airspace from Turkey. One should always be on
alert here. All interceptors on combat duty here are equipped with
four air-to-air missiles. The two bigger ones are located closer to
the fuselage and are capable of hitting a target within a distance of
up to 80 km. The two smaller ones are intended for close combat, they
are capable of hitting any target within 30 km. The equipment is
completely ready for combat.
NATO intelligence is monitoring the Russian air base in Armenia round
the clock. Two sites for direct tracking are situated on a slope of Mt
Ararat. The Turkish Air Force are trying to have every Russian pilot
Valeriy Ded, captioned as fighter pilot We do not normally meet them
in the air. At times we spot them on our radar screens, both on board
and on the ground. They know every pilot of ours, our voices, if not
Correspondent The Erebuni air base is part of the Russian air defence
complex situated in Armenia, the only one remaining in Transcaucasia,
protecting Russia’s southern borders. The main air defence forces are
located high up in the mountains, not far from Gyumri, formerly
Leninakan. There are four launch pads for air defence missile systems
Kub and S-300 there.
We were the only TV crew that was given a chance to film a Russian air
defence command post on alert duty.
Unidentified officer This facility allows us to see the sites where
the air defence batteries are stationed as well as the sectors they
are facing. We can give them the whereabouts of a target to hit.
Correspondent This radar station is able to operate within a radius of
300 km. The nearest NATO airfields in Turkey are situated at a
distance of about 200 km. In other words, the Russian command post is
able to spot any plane takeoff from any of the airfields.
Aleksey Gorskiy, captioned as commander of the combat command and
control division In May 2001 we began our test alert duty. We did not
have a right to open fire at trespassers. The Turks used to fly along
the border all the time. After the alert duty started in earnest in
October ?2001 , in other words when we were allowed to open fire, they
hardly ever appear here now.
Correspondent All the Russian air defence divisions stationed in
Armenia are working in close coordination with each other. In everyday
life pilots and anti-aircraft gunners are rivals. The air base is
proud of its unique barracks, containing fish water tanks,
mantelpieces and even a small zoo of their own. Meanwhile, the air
defence system command division claims that they have the best cook
Passage to end omitted: interview with cook.