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Long-Range Aviation Day marked in Russia on Monday

December 23, 2013, 10:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
This day in 1913, the first flight was made by the four-engine heavy bomber Ilya Muromets
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Tu-160 bomber

Tu-160 bomber

© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Rogulin

MOSCOW, December 23. /ITAR-TASS/. The Long-Range Aviation Day is marked in Russia on Monday. The professional holiday was instituted by an order issued by Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force (AF) in 1999 and, since then, it has been marked every year on December 23.

This day in 1913, the first flight was made by the four-engine heavy bomber Ilya Muromets, designed by Igor I. Sikorsky. One year later, by an edict issued by Emperor Nicholas II, the world's first squadron of the airplanes was formed. It was precisely the date that marked the beginning of Russia's strategic (long-range) aviation.

The fate of the squadron of Muromets airplanes was not easy. In the First World War years, those bombers made several hundreds of sorties, losing only one Ilya Muromets airplane. In 1917, the air squadron already included 20 bombers. However, in September 1917, the airplanes were burned down to prevent their capture by German troops that came close to the area where the air squadron was located.

Later on, long-range aviation adopted the bomber TB-3, designed under the direction of Andrei N. Tupolev, and then the aircraft DB-3 (after modernization — DB-3F and Il-4), designed at the design bureau headed by Sergei V. Ilyushin.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 the Red Army's long-range bombing aviation, consisting of five air corps, three air divisions and a separate air regiment (they comprised about 1,500 aircraft and almost 1,000 air crews) entered into fighting with the enemy on the first days of the war and participated in all large-scale operations of Soviet troops, accomplishing special missions. During the war years, long-range aircraft made more than 220,000 sorties. About 25,000 soldiers and officers of long-range aviation were decorated with State awards and 269 became Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Nowadays, long-range aviation has available strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3. The missile-carrying Tu-95MS was developed more than 50 years ago and is the world's only strategic bomber powered by turboprop engines. The Tu-22M3 aircraft are part of long-range maritime aviation.

The long-range aviation of today is the AF's main striking power and the strategic reserve of the Supreme Command. The basic purpose of the long-range aviation is to destroy enemy military facilities at long distances from basing areas, and carry out strategic and operations military reconnaissance.

Nowadays, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS make routine flights to areas in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans and areas off the Black Sea coast, as well as along the state borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

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