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14 May, 2008 04:45

Russian ‘Bears’ patrol Arctic skies

Two Russian TU-95 ‘Bear’ strategic bombers have successfully completed a twenty-hour Arctic training exercise. The flight route passed over Alaska where they were escorted by NATO fighter jets.

Officials say the exercise was carried out in accordance with international law.

It involved a mid-air refuelling procedure with the planes only 20 metres apart – a highly dangerous manoeuvre at a speed of 600 kilometres per hour.

Deputy Chief Commander of Russian Airforce, Aleksandr Drobyshevsky, said the flight was part of a routine training programme aimed at increasing the pilots' skills and experience.

“Two TU-95 strategic bombers based in Amursk Region have conducted a long-range patrol flight over the remote regions of the Arctic. Near Alaska, the bombers were escorted by NATO fighter planes for 40 minutes, also as part of their flight plan. Such training flights take place regularly over theneutral waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

Strategic patrol missions, which stopped in 1992, were resumed by Russia in August 2007.