MOSCOW, September 16 (Itar-Tass) —— The Union Shield 2011 exercises of Russia and Belarus started at the Gorokhovetsky and Ashuluk training ranges in Russia on Friday. Some 12,000 servicemen are taking part in the drill, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“These exercises logically develop the earlier drills. They aim to verify the operation of the Union State’s defense system and its ability to ensure military security of Russia and Belarus,” the ministry said.
“Servicemen of the Belarusian Armed Forces have been brought to the training ranges,” the Belarusian Defense Ministry said in turn. “The servicemen were transported by railroad and by air. That was a rather complex mission – there had never been such massive re-grouping for units in the history of the Belarusian Armed Forces before,” the ministry said.
The first phase of the exercises will last for four days and focus on flexible defense techniques. The interaction between servicemen of the Belarusian Western Operative Command and the 20th Army of the Russian Western Military District will be trained in Gorokhovetsky.
Meanwhile, “the joint operation of Army, Air Defense and Air Force units will be practiced in Ashuluk,” Russian Air Force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said. “Pilots will hit ground targets and airdrop paratroopers,” he said.
Sukhoi Si-34 fighter-bombers and Kamov Ka-52 Alligator assault helicopters will take part in the exercises for the first time ever. In all, about 50 aircraft will be engaged.