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27 Sep, 2021 14:36

Russian strategic bombers soar through skies as onboard gunners let off anti-aircraft salvos in major military readiness exercises

Crews of Russia’s long-range bomber planes have staged a series of airborne drills, taking off from airbases in the Volga region and testing out their built-in cannons as part of the exercises, armed forces chiefs have revealed.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow confirmed that the heavy jets carried out training flights. “A practical feature of the mission was practicing firing the aft aircraft cannons,” officials said.

The Tupolev-95MS four-engine strategic bomber was initially rolled out in 1956 and was intended to carry atomic weapons as part of a long-range nuclear deterrent. However, with the rise of ballistic missiles based in silos and submarines, many have been converted to carry cruise missiles and other heavy weaponry.

Also on rt.com Russia blasts US decision to fly ‘Dr. Strangelove’ nuclear bombers near its borders, warning move could darken Putin-Biden meeting

In June, Russian officials blasted Washington’s decision to fly another Cold War-era bomber, the B-52H Stratofortress, over the Baltic Sea during military drills, taking the nuclear-capable planes close to the country’s borders. Moscow’s envoys in America blasted the move as “yet another provocation” and said “this saber-rattling is fueling tensions in Europe.”

Late last year, Russia slammed members of the US-led NATO military bloc for what it claimed amounts to a sharp increase in the number of flights near the shared border. Over the course of the year, “the activity of [the bloc’s] air and naval forces increased significantly, and situations that can lead to serious incidents are increasingly emerging,” Deputy Minister of Defense Alexander Fomin said. “These actions were openly provocative. The incidents were avoided only thanks to the high level of professional training of Russian pilots and sailors.”

READ MORE: Increased NATO activity near Russian borders may one day lead to a ‘serious incident’, top Moscow defense official says

In December, the Ministry of Defense said that it had documented around 2,900 combat aircraft and 1,100 reconnaissance aircraft near Russian airspace in 2020. NATO claims that it has seen “an increased level of Russian military air activity close to the Alliance’s borders,” and insists its moves are in response to this. However, Moscow’s Foreign Ministry has claimed that the bloc’s pilots frequently fly with their transponders off, risking accidents in the air.

Also on rt.com Spies near our skies! Russia reports MORE THAN A THOUSAND foreign reconnaissance flights near its borders over course of 2020

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