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NATO fighters accompany Russian bombers near Alaska

RIA Novosti

26/03/2008 13:29 MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) -- NATO fighters accompanied Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers on a regular strategic patrol flight on Wednesday, a Russian Air Force spokesman said.

Two Bear bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers conducted a 16-hour patrol mission on Wednesday over the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean and performed aerial refueling.

"During the flight over neutral waters near Alaska, the Russian planes were accompanied by NATO fighters," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

Interceptions of Russian combat aircraft by NATO fighters have been a common occurrence since Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Drobyshevsky reiterated on Wednesday that regular patrols of Russian strategic bombers do not pose a threat to other countries, and Russia always issues prior warnings of their patrols.

He said that the main purpose of these missions was to train pilots in instrument flight and aerial refueling.


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