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RIA Novosti

BALASHIKHA, Moscow Region (RIA Novosti) - The exercise of the CIS Combined Air Defense System is to involve 56 fixed-wing and one rotary-wing aircraft, Colonel-General Boris Cheltsov, chief of staff of the Russian Air Force (RusAF), told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

According to him, such exercises are conducted biannually. Honing the interoperability skills is to involve intercept of intruders and rescuing aircraft in distress.

"The exercise also it to involve the Russian Air Force's Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers that will land at a Belarus airbase," the general said, adding that two A-50 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft were to be used in the exercise.

"One of them is to operate in the Belarus airspace and the other in the south of Russia. There were plans to use it in the Armenian airspace but Georgia did not grant it flyover rights," Cheltsov emphasized.

Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev, RusAF's deputy commander-in-chief for the CIS Combined AD System, said that the Russian A-50 AWACS plane would cue Belarus fighters to their targets in Belarus. He also mentioned that CIS aircraft would exercise joint maneuvering and intercept fast threats at high altitude.

"Russian aircraft stationed at Kant airbase in Kyrgyzstan, in conjunction with the Tajik Air Force, are to participate, however, the weather conditions there remain adverse," Bizhev said. "In all, eight CIS member states are to participate in the exercise, namely Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan."

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