Russian jets fire rockets in Bay of Biscay exercise

23rd January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Russian strategic bombers on Tuesday flew to the Bay of Biscay off the Spanish and French coasts to fire tactical missiles as part of naval exercises

   MOSCOW, January 23, 2008 - Russian strategic bombers on Tuesday flew to
the Bay of Biscay off the Spanish and French coasts to fire tactical missiles
as part of naval exercises, Interfax quoted a military official as saying.
   "The crews of two TU-160 planes... are successfully carrying out exercises
over the Atlantic and firing rockets in exercises jointly planned with the
navy," the Russian news agency quoted Alexander Drobyshevsky, an aide to the
head of the country's air force, as saying.
   The two planes were tracked by F-16 and Tornado jets from Britain and
Norway's air forces, Drobyshevsky said. He said other Russian planes were due
to join the exercises on Wednesday.
   The exercises over the Bay of Biscay, which lies between western France and
northern Spain, "are being carried out and will be carried out in strict
accordance with international rules," Drobyshevsky was quoted as saying.
   He said the flights were held above neutral waters and did not violate the
borders of any state.
   The exercises are part of a series of naval manoeuvres in the north
Atlantic and the Mediterranean announced by Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov
in December, in what he said was a bid to boost Russia's maritime presence and
protect shipping.
   A Norwegian military spokesman said the country scrambled fighter plans
after spotting two long-range, high-speed Russian reconnaissance planes known
as Bear Foxtrot over the North Atlantic. They were followed several hours
later by the two Blackjack TU-160 strategic bombers.
   The planes remained within international airspace at all times, the
spokesman said.
   President Vladimir Putin has made restoring Moscow's military prestige a
central priority at a time of political transition. He is due to stand down as
president after elections in March.

AFP 

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