Russia is staging a major exercise involving roughly 40 nuclear-capable bomber aircraft close to Japanese territory, RIA Novosti reported on Monday (see GSN, April 24, 2008).
Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said the five-day exercise, which began on Monday, would take place over Russian waters. The program involves some 40 long-range bombers and includes refueling during flight, practice bombing runs, aerial reconnaissance, and the firing of air-to-surface cruise missiles at the Litovka test installation.
Two Il-78 aerial tankers, approximately 10 Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers and some 30 Tu-95MS Bear aircraft are taking part in the drill, the spokesman said.
Russia two months ago dispatched two Bear long-range bombers and three other military aircraft to skies not far from Japan. The Japanese military responded by mobilizing F-16 and F-15 jets to accompany the Russian airplanes (RIA Novosti, April 16).