Russia upgrades its strategic bombers - April, 2008

Russia upgrades its strategic bombers


April, 2008

On April 29, representatives of the Kazan Aircraft Production Association (KAPO) presented the 121st Heavy Bomber Regiment of the Russian Air Force's 37th Army with a brand-new Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber. The warplane is named after Vitaly Kopylov, who headed the company in 1973-1993. Russia now has 16 front-line Tu-160 bombers, each of which can carry 12 X-55 subsonic nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of over 3,000 km. Each bomber can carry up to 40 metric tons of ordnance, including conventional X-55 missiles. Before December 1991, the Soviet Union had 36 Tu-160 bombers. After the break-up of the U.S.S.R., Ukraine seized 20 of these in the city of Priluki. Under the Lisbon Agreement between Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the United States and Russia, the former three countries were not allowed to have any nuclear weapons or their delivery vehicles. Twelve Ukrainian strategic bombers were eventually cut up in the presence of international inspectors and journalists.

After protracted talks, the remaining eight Tu-160s were transferred to Russia as payment for Kiev's gas debts. However, the planes had to be overhauled at KAPO, which is still upgrading some of them. According to official military documents, the Tu-160 is intended to "launch conventional and nuclear weapons against vital targets in remote regions and in the deep rear of continental theaters of war." Unlike the Boeing B-1 Lancer bomber, the Tu-160 has never taken part in such military operations. Instead of being part of the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) concept, the Tu-160 serves to deter possible aggression. From the late 1980s and until the early 1990s, Tu-160 bombers flew regular patrol missions over the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They carried no weapons, although Moscow did not tell anyone about this.

The Air Force high command said its strategic bombers, which resumed flying regular patrol missions over the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans from August 17, 2007, carried only dummy weapons. Their crews conduct bombing runs over Russian territory. Russian strategic bombers flying routine missions in the North Atlantic are shadowed by NATO fighters. Colonel General Alexander Zelin, commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, said this was also a good way to train NATO crews. Both sides do their best to avoid direct confrontation. The NATO pilots keep their distance. In fact, the professionalism of Russian and Western air crews has so far prevented any emergencies. The media sometimes report incidents involving Russian bombers buzzing U.S. aircraft carriers. According to General Zelin, Russian pilots do not violate any international agreements or safety precautions.

Although Moscow is not obliged to notify its NATO partners about all upcoming patrol missions involving Tu-160 and Tu-95 Bear bombers, it does so on a regular basis. General Zelin said bomber crews commanded by young captains and majors would fly up to 20-30 patrol missions per month, and that 40 missions had been flown in January-March 2008. He said 40 crews had been trained to fly in polar regions without any visible landmarks or reference points, and that pilots had logged an average of 60-80 hours in mid-air. The Vitaly Kopylov strategic bomber will help implement combat-training programs. The Russian Air Force is to receive four to five more upgraded Tu-160s before the year is out.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080430/106294211.html

In other news:


Russia-Belarus Accent Defense



Russian Defense Minister Anatoli Serdiukov highlighted the Russia-Belarus joint defense potential on Wednesday, declaring it a key factor to counteract any aggression or threat to either country's security. Serdiukov spoke at a two-day ministerial meeting in Minsk and called to unify defense resources to reverse common threats. The NATO extension, the planned sites of the US anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, intensification of the tension in the Middle East and other conflicts urge close military coordination, he said. Serdiukov assessed the dynamic cooperation between Moscow and Minsk in the defense sphere as excellent and successful. Belarusian Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev said the decisions in defense policy and in strengthening military relations create a solid base for long-term, mutually advantageous cooperation. He also highlighted both bilateral relations and those within the Collective Security Organization Treaty, composed of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. After welcoming the visiting minister, President Alexander Lukashenko asserted that Moscow does not have a more reliable partner in the West than Belarus and that joint creation of a regional troop speaks for itself and proves united positions. We will react together, with common positions toward the challenges and threats that surround us, said Lukashenko. The head of State asserted there were never issues between the Russian army and that of his country. Both ministries signed an inter-government agreement for shared technical assistance to the Russia-Belarus regional troop group, also established at the time of the ministerial meeting.

Source: http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp...D)&language=EN


Belarus Orders Expulsion Of 10 U.S. Diplomats


Belarus ordered 10 of 15 U.S. diplomats in this capital city Wednesday to leave the country within 72 hours. The Belarus foreign ministry summoned the head of the U.S. mission, Jonathan Moore, and told him that the 10 diplomats are persona non grata. Moore said he would comply with the order. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Belarus have been tense following Washington's November ban on U.S. citizens from working with Belarussian oil company Belneftekhim and the freezing of the oil firm's assets in the U.S. The sanctions were imposed due to alleged human rights violations committed by the Belarussian government against opposition members. In March, Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador, Karen Stuart, in retaliation for the sanctions on Belneftekhim, a major revenue source for the country.

Source: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7010811310

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