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Russia to revive bomber patrols


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Russia to revive bomber patrols

Putin says Moscow to resume practice ended with Soviet Union's collapse

The Associated Press

Updated: 9:47 a.m. ET Aug 17, 2007

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he had ordered the military to resume regular long-range flights of strategic bombers, news agencies reported, returning to a practice that ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Speaking as Russian and Chinese forces held major war games exercises for the first time on Russian territory, Putin said a halt in long-range bombers’ flights after the Soviet collapse had affected Russia’s security as other nations had continued such missions — an oblique reference to the United States.


“I have made a decision to resume regular flights of Russian strategic aviation,” Putin was quoted as saying by Russian agencies.


“We proceed from the assumption that our partners will view the resumption of flights of Russia’s strategic aviation with understanding,” Putin was quoted as saying.


The war games, which took place near the Urals Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, came on the same day that Russia's air force said its strategic bombers flew several missions ranging far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.


‘Pilots have been grounded for too long’

Putin said that 20 Russian bombers were involved in the exercise.


“Starting today, such tours of duty would be regular,” Putin said. “Our pilots have been grounded for too long, they are happy to start a new life.”


Soviet bombers routinely flew such missions to areas from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the United States, but stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown.


Booming oil prices over recent years have allowed Russia to sharply increase its military spending.


“Starting in 1992, the Russian Federation unilaterally suspended strategic aviation flights to remote areas,” Putin said. “Regrettably, other nations haven’t followed our example. That has created certain problems for Russia’s security.”


Find MSNBC/AP story here.

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I heard a report on the BBC World service, would have been around lunch time Friday in the UK. The report backs up the story from AP and went on to pay particular attention to the resumption of what the reporter hesitantly called, "...a T U - 95, known as a "Bear" to RAF Tornado pilots that were scrambled to intercept the aircraft."


The BBC report seemed more concerned with the resumption of Bear flights to the north of the UK and that the RAF may be forced to resume regular patrols to monitor their activities. Sounds to me like the RAF Tornado ADV squadrons just picked up some extra flying hours...





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From Air Force Times


British jets follow Russian bomber near U.K.

By Thomas Wagner - The Associated Press

Posted : Tuesday Aug 21, 2007 16:32:31 EDT


LONDON — Two Royal Air Force jets shadowed a Russian strategic bomber that approached British airspace, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Tuesday.


The incident occurred Friday, the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin flexed his military’s muscle by placing strategic bombers back on long-range patrol for the first time since the Soviet breakup.


Britain’s defense ministry issued two photographs on its Web site showing one of the two RAF Typhoon F2s flying near the Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber, nicknamed the Bear, over the North Atlantic Ocean.


The ministry provided few details about where and why this happened, but the Russian warplane apparently was in international airspace and approaching Britain’s skies when it was shadowed.


Last month, two Russian bombers briefly entered British airspace but turned back after British fighter jets intercepted them.


Typhoon F2s are responsible for carrying out the quick-reaction alert policies of British and NATO air defense in Britain, the ministry said.


In Russia on Friday, Putin announced that 20 strategic bombers had been sent far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans — showing off Moscow’s muscular new posture.


“Starting today, such tours of duty will be conducted regularly and on the strategic scale,” Putin said at the time. “Our pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.”


Putin said halting long-range bombers after the Soviet collapse had hurt Russia’s security because other nations — an oblique reference to the U.S. — had continued such missions.


Soviet bombers routinely flew missions to areas where nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the U.S. They stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown. Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to sharply increase its military spending.


Eleven Russian military planes — including strategic bombers and fighter jets — carried out maneuvers west of NATO member Norway on Friday, a military official said.


Norway sent F-16 fighter jets to observe and photograph the Russian planes, which rounded the northern tip of Norway and flew south over the Norwegian Sea toward the Faeroe Islands before turning back, said Brig. Gen. Ole Asak, chief of the Norwegian Joint Air Operations Center.


A pair of Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers approached the Pacific Island of Guam — home to a major U.S. military base — this month for the first time since the Cold War.


Last month, Norwegian F-16s were also scrambled when Tu-95s headed south along the Norwegian coast in international airspace.

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From Defense Aerospace


Typhoon Launches Operationally for the First Time

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Aug. 21, 2007)


Typhoon F2s took on their first operational duties on 29 June 2007, when they assumed responsibility for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) element of UK and NATO air defence in the southern part of the country at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.


Typhoons, the RAF’s newest fast jet aircraft, currently cover the UK Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) commitment together with Tornado F3 aircraft (which are based at RAF Leeming and RAF Leuchars).


Over the next nine months, the Typhoons will progressively replace Tornado F3s, the aircraft which have performed this duty for many years.


The first operational unit is Number 3 (Fighter) Squadron, which received its first Typhoon in March 2006, and is the lead squadron for developing RAF Typhoon air defence operations.


3(F) Squadron cover the QRA commitment with Typhoons from Number XI Squadron, which are also based at RAF Coningsby.


QRA procedures entail aircraft being held at continuous ground readiness, so that they can take off within minutes - without pre-warning - to provide air defence.

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From DefenseNews


Posted 08/21/07 14:11

Norway Boosts AF Presence at Northern Air Base



Heightened security concerns driven by increased Russian Air Force activity has prompted Norway’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) to order the Air Force to deploy additional F-16 fighters to Bodoe, Norway’s most northern strategic military air base.

The MoD reported on Aug. 17 that Norwegian F-16s were scrambled from Bodoe to track and monitor an exercise involving Tupolev 95 bombers out of air bases located on the Kola Peninsula.

“Our F-16s spent 10 hours in the air monitoring the Tupolev 95s off the Norwegian coast. It is the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russian military activity in the north has been at this high a level,” said Per Egil Rygg, Bodoe Air Base’s wing commander. .

The MoD described its action as “precautionary,” adding that no Russian military aircraft has violated Norwegian airspace.

“It is important to remember that although there has been an increase in military activity by Russia’s Air Force, we have been kept informed about all exercises. We have sent more aircraft to Bodoe air base, but this is more a cautionary move than anything else,” said Espen Barth Eide, MoD undersecretary of state.

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From Jane's


Russia reaffirms bomber power

By Denise Hammick and Michael J Gething

29 August 2007


Ironically fulfilling the mission for which it was originally designed, a pair of UK Royal Air Force Typhoon F.2 multirole fighters were scrambled to intercept a Russian Tu-95 'Bear H' bomber/maritime reconnaissance aircraft over the northern Atlantic Ocean on 17 August.


The resumption of long-range patrols by Russian reconnaissance aircraft had been announced that day by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a ratcheting up of Moscow's ongoing diplomatic spat with the West: a move reminiscent of the manoeuvrings of East and West through the 46 years of the Cold War.


"Fourteen Russian strategic missile-carrying aircraft, support aircraft and refuelling aircraft took to the air from seven airfields of the Russian Federation," Putin told the Russian press. "As of today, duty of this kind - combat duty - will be carried out on a regular basis."


The resumption of flights was intended as a finale to the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation's (SCO's) counterterrorism exercise 'Peace Mission 2007', which involved more than 6,000 troops. The deployment signalled to NATO that the SCO cannot be ignored as a military organisation, although the body's main focus, Putin said, is facilitating economic co-operation. NATO has refused to comment on the flights, stating only that "Russia has not communicated [this] through official channels to NATO".


However, Norwegian Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Inge Oeglaend confirmed that Russian long-range patrols took place on 17 August. He told Jane's that the Royal Norwegian Air Force deployed eight F-16AM fighter aircraft to patrol close to the area for about 10 hours. "It was the exercise pattern we have seen before," he said, but "we would have to go a long way back in time... to find similar amounts of aircraft operating that far west".


The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) also confirmed the number of Quick Reaction Alert sorties to intercept unidentified aircraft has risen from zero to "a handful" in recent months. A spokesman said there had been no pattern to the Russian flights, which indicates the deployments are designed to demonstrate capability, rather than being for operational necessity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From Sky News


RAF Intercepts Russian Bombers

Updated: 14:00, Thursday September 06, 2007


RAF Tornados have intercepted eight Russian bombers as they approached UK airspace. [Me: That's a lot of ursidae.]


The Bear Tupolev-95 planes - which can carry nuclear and Cruise missiles - were detected by Nato early this morning.


Ministry of Defence officials said four F3 fighters were scrambled from RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.


The Russian planes diverted before entering British territory.


They headed back to their base in north Russia without incident and are still thought to be in the air, with Nato tracking their progress.


Sky's Defence correspondent Geoff Meade said: "Diplomatic relations between Moscow and London haven't been great for some time and I think this is maybe a bit of sabre-rattling on behalf of the Russians.


"This is the biggest formation of Russian aircraft to be challenged in this way since the Cold War and marks a stepping up of Moscow's challenge to British defences."


He described the incident - the second of its kind in a month - as a "probing mission".


Norway twice scrambled F-16 fighters to monitor the Russian planes as they neared - but did not breach - its airspace.


As well as carrying missiles, the long-range Bear planes are used for surveillance.


Last month, two of the RAF's new Typhoon Eurofighter jets were used to intercept and turn back a single Bear over the north Atlantic.


And in July, two Russian aircraft were warned off by RAF jets as they headed towards UK airspace.


In May, two Tornado F3s were scrambled from RAF Leuchars in Scotland to intercept a Tu-95 observing the Royal Navy exercise Neptune Warrior.

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