Engel's Air Base near Saratov is one of the principal facilities hosting Russian Long Range Aviation strategic bombers. Of the total of 24 Tu-160 bombers produced, 19 Tu-160s fell into Ukrainian hands, with the only Russian Air Force bomber regiment operating the Tu-160 based at Engels.
In addition, a base for the elimination and dismantling of Russian Federation Air Force armaments was set up in Engel's in May 1991. Former Soviet bombers are being dismantled using American equipment provided through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)program. This is where the Tu-22, Tu-95, and 3-MS bombers which are covered by the START I treaty are being destroyed. Since 1991 over a hundred aircraft have been reduced to scrap at Engels. A total of 92 Russian Tu-22 bombers flew down to Engel's from Belarus, with sixty-three planes placed in temporary storage. The rest have reached the end of their service life and will be scrapped. By the end of the year 2000 a further 204 heavy bombers will be scrapped at the Engel's base (70 under international treaties, the rest because they are obsolete).
As of 01 July 1998 bombers deploued at Engel's included 18 Bear-H16, 2 Bear-H6, and 6 Tu-160 Blackjack. As of late 1999, it was reported that aircraft at Engel's included 120 Tu-22, 18 Tu-95 and 6 Tu-160.
The 11 strategic bombers and 600 air-launched missiles exchanged by Ukraine to Russia in payment for the gas debt were transfered in mid-February 2000. Two Tu-160 bombers flew from Priluki in the Ukrainian Chernigov region for the Russian air base in Engels. The missiles were sent to Russia by railroad. Three Tu-95MS bombers and six Tu-160 airplanes had already arrived at Engels since October 1999 in fulfilment of the intergovernmental agreements. Before being moved to Russia, 19 Tu-160 airplanes were stationed at the Priluki airfield and 21 Tu-95MS were located in Uzin.
By 2004 Russian Tu-95 and TU-95MS aircraft were deployed at two air bases. A total of nineteen TU-95MS16 and two TU-MS6, operating in the 121st heavy bomber air regiment, which forms part of the 22nd Air Division that is headquarteed in Engels Air Base in the Moscow region. At the Ukrainka airbase (73th Heavy Bomber Air Division) at Svobodny, there are 16 TU-95MS16 and 26 TU-95MS6 bombers that were redeployed from the Dolon airbase at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.
Sources and Methods
- Thomas Cochrane, William Arkin, Robert Norris and Jeffrey Sands, Soviet Nuclear Weapons Nuclear Weapons Databook Volume IV, Natural Resources Defense Council [New York, Harper & Row, 1989].
- "Report on Bomber Elimination at Engels AFB", FBIS Daily Report FBIS-SOV-95-136, 5 July 1995