Russian strategic bombers to join military drills with Belarus

MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian strategic bombers will conduct practice launches of various types of missiles on October 6-12 during large-scale Russia-Belarus military exercises which started Monday, the Air Force commander said. (Russian strategic bombers - Image gallery)

The Stability-2008 exercises will last until October 21 in various regions of Russia and Belarus with the goal of practicing strategic deployment of the Armed Forces, including the nuclear triad, to counter potential threats near the Russian border. "The exercise will involve the majority of personnel and strategic aircraft in service with strategic aviation," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said. "The crews will deploy the entire range of on-board weaponry."

According to various sources, the Russian Air Force currently has in service at least 141 Tu-22M3 Backfire-C, 40 Tu-95 Bear-H and 16 modernized Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.

The bombers carry long-range cruise missiles and short-range nuclear missiles as primary weaponry.

Moscow has repeatedly stressed the need to continue the development of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces, including its airborne component, and said they should be able to respond promptly and effectively to any aggression.

The Russian Air Force combat training program has scheduled more than 200 exercises with 350 live firing drills for the second half of 2008.



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