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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers performed
Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers performed in-flight refueling accompanied by NATO fighters during a routine patrol flight over the Atlantic, a Russian Air Force spokesman said Thursday.

"Two Tu-95 bombers and two Il-78 planes have successfully completed a 15-hour routine patrol over neutral Atlantic waters," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. "They were accompanied by NATO Tornado and F-16 fighters, including during in-flight refueling."

Drobyshevsky said the crews practiced their in-flight refueling techniques, allowing the bombers to remain in the air for more than 24 hours, which are considered extremely difficult, "especially when the Russian planes are accompanied by NATO interceptors."

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

Although it was common practice during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to keep nuclear strategic bombers permanently airborne, the Kremlin cut long-range patrols in 1992. The decision came as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ensuing economic and political chaos.

However, the newly-resurgent Russia, awash with petrodollars, has invested heavily in military technology, and the resumption of long-range patrols is widely seen among political commentators as another sign of its drive to assert itself both militarily and politically.


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