MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Air Force is preparing to conduct a series of tests of new cruise missiles, as well as carrying out strategic bomber patrols including stops in other countries, the commander of its long-range fleet said Wednesday.
“In 2014 we are planning practice launches of cruise missiles, including new models,” Gen. Lt. Anatoly Zhikharev told reporters, without specifying the missiles to be fired. Russian planes launched 15 cruise missiles last year.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last summer that Russia was planning a 30-fold increase of its cruise missile arsenal by 2020.
The buildup is planned to include the new Raduga Kh-101 cruise missile that can carry an 880-pound (400 kilogram) payload up to 6,000 miles (9,600 kilometers).
Zhikharev also said that Russia’s long-range air fleet would conduct long-distance patrols this year, including stops at airbases in other countries that will be named in the future.
In October last year a pair of Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers visited Venezuela and Nicaragua while conducting patrols over the Caribbean, in the first such visit since 2008.
Columbia protested the flights and scrambled jet fighters to escort the bombers, claiming that they had violated its airspace.
The Tu-160 is a supersonic strategic bomber with variable-sweep wings, designed to engage targets around the globe with nuclear and conventional weapons.