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Russian pilots spend almost day in the air during joint drills in Tajikistan

March 16, 10:00 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG
The pilots made more than 20 sorties performing terrain reconnaissance, convoy escorting, materiel transportation missions, as well as for air landing
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Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range missile carrying bomber

Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range missile carrying bomber

© Russian Defense Ministry/TASS

YEKATERINBURG, March 16. /TASS/. Russian pilots have almost a day spent in the air fulfilling tasks during a joint command-staff exercise with the armed forces of Tajikistan, spokesman for Russia’s Central Military District Colonel Yaroslav Roshchupkin said on Wednesday.

"In accordance with the exercise plan, the pilots made more than 20 sorties performing terrain reconnaissance, convoy escorting, materiel transportation missions, as well as for air landing. They spent more than 23 hours in the air consuming about 100 tons of aviation fuel," Roshchupkin said.

According to him, during the joint exercise Russia’s Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range missile carrying bombers, Sukhoi Su-25SM strike fighters, Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-8 transport-combat helicopters took off from the Ayni airfield located in the vicinity of Dushanbe. The flights were performed at extremely low altitudes in mountainous terrain. The crews of the Tu-95 MS strategic bombers flew over the mountain ranges located in the territory of Tajikistan and had data communication with the command and control posts deployed in the areas of the drills.

Taking off from the Engels airbase in Russia’s Saratov region, the Tu-95 bombers flew for about 11 hours, covering a distance of 8,000 kilometers in the airspace of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They successfully landed at their base in the Saratov region.

The main stage of the joint command and staff exercise of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Tajikistan began at four Tajikistani ranges on Monday.

"Drills with the use of modern automation equipment for information exchange between the headquarters’ command and control posts, including with Russia’s National Defense Control Centre have been conducted," Roshchupkin said on Monday. The change of the deployment areas of the command and alternate command posts has been made. The total length of the redeployment route has exceeded 20,000 kilometers.

On Sunday, the Central Military District completed redeployment of Russian aircraft involved in the maneuvers to tactical airfields in Tajikistan.

The Russian-Tajikistani joint aviation group comprises the Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range missile carrying bombers, Sukhoi Su-25SM strike-fighters, Su-24M frontline bombers, Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-8 transport-combat helicopters, as well as forces and facilities of Tajikistan’s Air Force. The task of the established group is to ensure the deployment and actions of troops at the Lyaur, Kharb-Maidon, Momirak and Khalkayor ranges. "The bodies of military administration of the Defense Ministry of Tajikistan and Russia’s Central Military District, motorized infantry, armored and artillery units, special forces, airborne and air assault groups are involved in the maneuvers", Roshchupkin said.

According to the Tajikistani Defense Ministry’s press center, the joint anti-terrorism exercises involved up to 50,000 troops and reservists of the country’s Armed Forces.

As spokesman for the Tajikistani Defense Ministry Faridun Makhmadalizoda previously said, "for the first time in the history of military cooperation between Tajikistan and Russia, the drills involve not only the servicemen of Russia’s 201st military base but also additional manpower and military hardware of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Central Military District, which have already arrived in the area of anti-terror drills." He said: "the purpose of the joint exercise is to improve interaction of the Russian and Tajik armed forces, to check their readiness to respond to terrorist attacks from outside at a southern border of the CIS.".

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