LUZHSKY GROUND /Leningrad region/, September 17. /TASS/.
Attack helicopters of Russia’s Western Military District provided air support to ground troops and hit more than 20 maneuver enemy targets during the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) drills, the district’s press service said on Sunday.
“As part of the Zapad-2017 joint strategic exercises, crews of Mi-28N and Ka-52 attack helicopters drills the skills of aerial reconnaissance, delivering missile strikes at land-based targets and backing land troops at the Luzhsky training ground,” the press service said.
While drilling aerial reconnaissance skills, the pilots conducts nap-of-the-earth flights at set intervals and distances.
Apart from that, the helicopters launched unguided missiles and used onboard weapons to hit more than 20 targets imitating armored vehicles, artillery positions, strongholds and other facilities of the maneuver enemy.
A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 began in Russia and Belarus on September 14. The drills are held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships.
The main purpose of the exercise is to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.
A Russian Air Force bomber skidded off the runway in western Russia.
On Sept. 14, 2017, a Russian Air Force Tu-22М3 RF-94233 / 20 “RED” suffered an incident when it overran the runway at Shaykovka airfield, in western Russia. On the very same date a flight of six Backfire bombers flew a mission over the Baltic Sea that, according to our sources, was probably aimed at simulating a naval attack on the Baltic Fleet.
The ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) was part of the larger “Zapad 2017,” the anti-terror military drills (with purely defensive aims according to the Russian MoD) taking place in Belarus and three regions in the western part of Russia from Sept. 14-20 and involving about 12.7K troops (including 7.2K of Belarusian troops, about 5.5K Russian troops and 3K of them – on the territory of Belarus), about 70 aircraft and helicopters, up to 680 pieces of military hardware including about 250 tanks, up to 200 guns, MLRSs and mortars as well as 10 warships.
The Tu-22 is a Soviet-era supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was developed during the Cold War and, with a range of about 6,800 kilometers and a payload of 24,000 kg, it is still considered a significant threat to many latest generations weapon systems: a fast platform to launch cruise missiles, conventional or nuclear weapons in various regional war scenarios.
Especially when it carries the Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 ‘Kitchen’) long-range anti-ship missile, a 13,000-lbs a missile with a range of 320 nautical miles, the Tu-22 can be “useful” to aim at aircraft carriers and to pursue an anti-access/area denial strategy.
Russia’s Tu-95MS strategic bombers have made scheduled flights over the neutral waters of the Pacific Ocean and several seas, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.
“The Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers of the Aerospace Forces carried out scheduled flights over the neutral waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, Yellow and the East China Seas.
Along the route long-range aircraft were accompanied by Su-35S fighters of the Eastern Military District, as well as by the A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft of the Military Transport Aviation, “the ministry said.
“At certain stages of the flight, Russian strategic missile carriers were accompanied by aircraft of the Air Force of the Republic of Korea and Japan Air Self-Defense Force,” the ministry added.
The Defense Ministry also reported that during the flights strategic bombers carried out refueling in the air.
Russia has shown for the first time its new Ilyushin Il-22PP Porubshchik special mission aircraft. The ‘escort jammer’ aircraft made its public debut on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Russian air force over Kubinka on 12 August.
The Il-22P is a signals intelligence (SIGINT) and stand-off-jamming platform that has been built around a converted Il-22 ‘Coot-B’ airframe, which is itself a theatre-level airborne command post and radio relay aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-18D turboprop airliner.
While the Il-22PP retains the airframe and power plant of the Il-22, it has four large fairings located symmetrically on both sides of the fuselage. These contain antennas of the L-415 electronic countermeasures (ECM) system made by the KNIRTI institute of Kaluga.
Another antenna is fitted to the tail, while a further antenna is located under the fuselage. A fixed pod beneath the fuselage contains 16 32-round 26 mm UV-26M chaff/flare launchers for self defence; two more 14-round 50 mm (2-inch) launchers are built into the under-fuselage. The aircraft has a livery resembling that of the civilian Aeroflot airline, although it carried the inscription ‘Russia Air Force’ and the red star marking. It also has the inscription ‘Il-18’ on the nose.
According to the Myasishchev design bureau, which is responsible for the conversion, “the airplane is intended for detection and suppression of state-of-the-art secretive and jam-proof systems of combat control of various functions”. These are “radars, guidance channels of surface-to-air missile systems, mid-course flight path correction channels of cruise missiles, as well as tactical data exchange networks such as Link 16.
Russia’s Aerospace Force will get over 70 aircraft and helicopters, as well as more than 40 air defense missile systems until the end of this year, Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Viktor Bondarev told Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper on Friday.
“Over 70 aircraft, more than 40 air defense missile systems and about 70 radar stations will arrive for Aerospace Force units until the end of the year,” he said.
Russia’s Aerospace Force has already received about 50 new aircraft this year: Sukhoi Su-34, Su-35S, Su-30SM, Yak-130 planes, Kamov Ka-52 combat helicopters, Mil Mi-8 AMTSh and Mi-8MTV-5-1 military transport helicopters and also over 20 standby and alert radar stations, the commander said.
“Besides, the industry is finalizing and delivering satellites, military carrier rockets and radars characterized by the high degree of their readiness for ensuring a closed field of missile attack warning.
Let me note that special attention during the planning of the Aerospace Force’s hardware upgrade was paid to constant alert units and formations where armament and military hardware had considerably used up their potential,” Bondarev said.
The work to extend the service life of Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers and raise their combat efficiency is on the Russian Defense Ministry’s priority list, Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.
“We’ll continue discussing today how tasks are being solved to develop the fleet of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers. These planes are an important component of the country’s nuclear potential,” the defense minister said at the ministry’s conference call.
These planes carry out regular flights under the nuclear containment plan over the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea and also in eastern areas, the defense minister said.
“That is why, extending the service life of the missile carriers and raising their combat efficiency are among our priority tasks. Now the public joint-stock company Tupolev is carrying out modernization of the planes jointly with other industrial enterprises and also repairing aviation engines, onboard equipment and reproducing new units and assemblies. Considering the high significance of works being carried out, we’ll discuss what has been done over this month,” the defense minister said.
The Tu-160 is the Soviet strategic missile carrier armed with cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Along with the Tu-95MS missile carrier, the Tu-160 makes part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces along with the ground-based missile systems and submarines.
NATO jets intercepted three Russian military aircraft near Estonian airspace Tuesday, an alliance spokesman told CNN.
“Two Spanish F-18 jets assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled from Estonia’s Amari Air Base on Tuesday morning to intercept unidentified non-NATO military aircraft near Estonian airspace,” acting NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement.
He added that Finnish jets also scrambled to intercept the Russian aircraft which he identified as two MiG-31 fighter jets and an AN-26 transport plane.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission involves allied aircraft securing the airspace of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The incident between NATO and Russian military aircraft comes less than 24 hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited Estonia where he reaffirmed America’s commitment to NATO’s collective defense clause in the face of Russian aggression.
“No threat looms larger in the Baltic States than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Pence said an appearance with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America rejects any attempt to use force, threats, intimidation, or malign influence in the Baltic States or against any of our treaty allies,” he added.
The incident also saw the Spanish aircraft “accidentally” entering Finnish airspace.
“In handing over the intercept to the Finnish jets, the Spanish jets accidentally entered Finnish airspace. NATO’s Air Command has explained the incident to the Finnish Air Operations Centre to improve future coordination,” White said.
Finland, which is not a member of NATO, appeared to confirm the incident Tuesday with its ministry of defense issuing a statement saying the two Spanish jets were “suspected of having violated Finland’s airspace on Tuesday morning.”
“We have seen an increase in air activity in the Baltic region, but with few exceptions, the vast majority of the intercepts are conducted in a safe and responsible manner by all parties,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters last month following a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
He also referred to a Finish Initiative which recently convened a working group of representatives from Russia, NATO, Sweden and Finland to discuss the issues involving the congested Baltic airspace.
“They are working in a good way,” Stoltenberg said.