Air Force Sends Planes to Arctic and Atlantic

The military sent fighters and long-range bombers to the Arctic and North Atlantic on Friday to take part in maneuvers demonstrating the revival of some of the power it lost with the Soviet collapse.

The Air Force said more than 40 aircraft were taking part in the maneuvers, which follow similar exercises by warships and bombers last month off the Atlantic coast of France and Spain.

"Air Force pilots will carry out practice in the areas involving reconnaissance, missile-bombing attacks on a Navy attack force of a hypothetical enemy, air-to-air combat and refueling and patrolling," an Air Force spokesman said.

The bomber group included two Tu-160 strategic bombers, codenamed "Blackjack" by NATO, two turboprop Tu-95 "Bear" strategic bombers, and eight Tu-22 "Blinder" bombers. MiG-31 and Su-27 fighters were also sent to the region.

President Vladimir Putin has tapped feelings of national humiliation in rebuilding forces left to decay in the 1990s.

Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to succeed Putin in the presidential election in March, called last month for a revival of the Navy to boost international respect for Russia. He also complained that reform of the Navy had taken longer than envisaged.

Military spending in absolute terms is substantially lower than that of China, Britain or France and less than a tenth of the United States.