Russia Restores Soviet -Era Strategic Bomber Patrols


AZG Armenian Daily #149


On August 17, President Vladimir Putin said Russia permanently resumed
long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended
in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, RIA Novosti informed.

"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." The president, speaking on
the final day of large-scale military exercises involving Russia,
China, and four Central Asian countries in the south Urals, said
that on the first day of patrol flights, bomber planes would spend
about 20 hours in the air, with midair refueling, and would interact
with naval forces. "Air patrol areas will include zones of commercial
shipping and economic activity. As of today, combat patrolling will
be on a permanent basis. It has a strategic character," Putin said.

The president said 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.

A former Russian Air Force chief said the resumption of patrols would
strengthen Russia’s defense capability. "It’s a good thing that the
old geopolitical setup has been revised. It used to be based on the
principle, ‘No one is going to attack us.’ Practice testifies to the
contrary," Army Gen.

Pyotr Deinekin said.

He highlighted the new potential security threats Russia faces,
saying NATO fighters were based in the Baltic States – formerly part
of the Soviet Union and now EU members – while radar stations are
being built around Russia’s borders.

The general said that the early 1980s, in response to the U.S.’s
deployment of cruise missiles in Europe, Soviet strategic aviation
started patrolling areas as far a field as the U.S. coast. Patrols
were discontinued following the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw
Pact, and due to severe economic difficulties, including an acute
fuel shortage.

"Flights will be conducted on the same basis as they were in the past,"
Deinekin said.