Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bombers Without Bombs?

Pavel Podvig at the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Blog makes the interesting assertion that the resumed bomber flights are flying without bombs. ITAR-TASS makes the same claim:

"MOSCOW, August 21 (Itar-Tass) - Planes of the Russian long-range aviation are flying continuous airborne alert missions without having any nuclear weapons on board, Deputy Commander of the Russian Long-Range Aviation Major-General Anatoly Zhikharev told reporters here on Tuesday.

“All such planes are provided with training missiles”, he stated. “Continuous alert missions were resumed on August 17 on decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and President of the Russian Federation after an interval, which had lasted from 1992,” the general added. “They are being flown in difficult conditions, including pre-reconnaissance, refuelling in the air, and opposition to fighters of NATO and other countries”.

“We have continued the Soviet times tradition and are flying missions in the north-eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean, over the Norwegian, Northern and Japanese Seas, and also beyond the North Pole and over the Aleutian Islands,” Zhikharev stressed, adding that “Russian pilots are not intruding into foreign airspace”. “There is nothing aggressive in respect to other countries,” he stressed. The general noted that “two crew rotations a week are needed to keep the pilots trained and this is a normal regime for the Air Force”.

I was under the impression that the Aleutians were part of Alaska, perhaps Major-General Zhikharev studied geography at the same place GWB studied the history of the Vietnamese War.

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