Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has approved an initiative to improve the testing capacity for the nation's nuclear arsenal, Interfax reported yesterday (see GSN, May 28).
At a meeting yesterday with Putin, atomic energy chief Sergei Kiriyenko said enhancement of the nuclear test program would ensure that Russia's strategic deterrent would remain viable without breaching the nation's adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (see GSN, May 6). The stockpile could be maintained for four to five decades through use of supercomputers and other systems, he indicated.
"I have closely studied it (the program). The document has been signed," Putin said (Interfax, June 11).
Meanwhile, Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers conducted a longest-ever patrol flight of 23 hours, breaking the previous record of 21 hours, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
"This mission was the second maximum range flight ever conducted by this type of aircraft. A Tu-160 carried out a similar mission last year and stayed in the air for 21 hours," Russian air force spokesman Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said yesterday, according to RIA Novosti.
The bombers flew over the Arctic and Pacific oceans and back into Russian territory, finally setting down in the Volga region.
In 2007, then-President Putin ordered that Russia resume strategic bomber patrol flights over the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Blackjack is capable of carrying nuclear and non-nuclear armaments (Xinhua News Agency, June 10).