Russian & Chinese bombers patrol off Japan
A group of Russian and Chinese strategic bombers have held a joint patrol in the northwestern Pacific. Flying off the coast of Japan and over the East China Sea, they were supported by Moscow's fighter jets and command aircraft.
Friday's operation saw two Russian Tu-95MS and two Chinese Xian H-6K strategic engaged. The bombers were escorted by fighter jets, including Russian Su-35S aircraft. The flight was coordinated by a Russian Be A-50U, an airborne early warning and control plane.
Footage released by the Russian military shows Tu-95MS aircraft taking off from an airfield, flying alongside a Su-35S fighter jet, and also provides a rare view from the strategic bomber's cockpit. The video also suggests that the patrolling aircraft have been shadowed by at least one Japanese F-15 fighter jet at some point along their sortie.
The joint patrol came as a part of pre-planned military activities and "was not aimed against any third countries," Russia's Ministry of Defence said in a statement. The goal of the patrol was to further reinforce "Russian-Chinese relations and comprehensive partnership," as well as contribute to the "strengthening of global strategic stability," it added.
The Russian Tu-95 is the fastest turboprop-powered aircraft in the world and the only turboprop strategic bomber still in service. The Tu-95MS variant is a heavily modernized aircraft, sharing little in common with the original 1950s plane except for its looks.
The Chinese Xian H-6K shares a similar story – while being a cousin of a Cold War-era Tu-16 jet bomber, aircraft of this type have been heavily upgraded and joined the ranks of the country's military only in the early 2010s.
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