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Ex-Soviet states to test integrated air defense this week

RIA Novosti

20/10/2008 18:37 MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - More than 50 combat aircraft will participate in a joint command-and-staff air defense exercise conducted by members of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Thursday, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Monday.

"The exercise will involve over 50 fighters, bombers and helicopters. A particular feature of the exercise is the deployment of Russia's A-50 Mainstay AWACS aircraft," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said.

Combat-duty units of the CIS integrated air defense network, which are stationed in Kazakhstan, Siberia, central Russia, Belarus and Armenia will take part in the exercise.

The CIS, a loose alliance of former Soviet states, comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine is a founding and participating country but technically not a member state. Turkmenistan holds associate status, while Georgia recently withdrew over the South Ossetia conflict.

The integrated air defense network was set up by 10 CIS member countries on February 10, 1995.

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