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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Two Navy bomber regiments to join Air Force in 2008

RIA Novosti

21/05/2007 14:52 MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Two regiments of Tu-22M Backfire strategic bombers currently under Navy command are set to become part of the Russian Air Force by the end of 2008, a senior Air Force official said Monday.

"We are planning to reassign two regiments of naval strategic bombers, which will join the 37th Air Army of the Strategic Command as part of major structural and organizational changes to bring the status of long-range aviation to a strategic level," the newly appointed Chief of the Air Force General Staff, Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov, said.

At present, the regiments are involved in joint combat training with strategic aviation units of the Russian Air Force, he said.

Khvorov, the former commander of the 37th Air Army, said March 5 that Russia's strategic aviation has sufficient potential to suppress elements of a U.S. missile defense shield should it be deployed in Central Europe.

The Tu-22M is a supersonic, swing-wing strategic bomber with a maximum range of 4,000 miles and a speed of over Mach 2. The aircraft can cruise at low altitudes and penetrate highly defended airspace with a quick supersonic dash.

According to experts, its range allows the bomber to attack all of Japan, and even some areas in Alaska. It can carry cruise missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.

Russia reportedly has 124 Tu-22M bombers in service with the Air Force and 58 deployed by the Navy.



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