PUTIN AND BERLUSCONI WATCH DEMONSTRATION FLIGHTS IN LIPETSK

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LIPETSK, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi watched demonstration flights at the Lipetsk air base.

In the Su-27 fighter of the Lipetsk aviation centre, piloted by its commander Major-General of Aviation Alexander Kharchevski, on March 20, 2000 the then acting president Vladimir Putin flew from Krasnodar to Chechnya.

The planes took off in two or singly. After that, pilots acted out the flight training element "team-work flight of fighter sections at low altitudes".

The group descended to 200 meters and then performed a 180-degree ascent turn, climbing to 700 meters. And then another 180-degree turn, descending to 200 meters.

General Kharchevski performed an aerobatics cascade, which is the basic tactical method of manoeuvrable aerial combat. Such rolls, 70-degree steep climbs, whip stalls help foil enemy ascend-manoeuvre attacks with further assuming a tactically advantageous position for attack. Such aerobatics demonstrate the planes' capability to follow low-flying targets with subsequent attack.

Kharchevski performed the well-known aerobatic figure - normal inside loop.

After that, a mixed group made up of a Su-24M section made a performance - while one pair was waiting in a formation, the other group was doing mid-air refuelling.

The group was covered by a section of Su-27 fighters and a Mig-29 pair, jettisoning thermal infrared decoys to mislead missiles. This formation is called "tactical wing". Then a Su-27 pair performed several close-in manoeuvrable aerial fight elements.

Putin and Berlusconi were also shown a version of group aerial fight. They admired what they have seen at the Lipetsk air base.

During the demonstration flights the Russian president and the Italian prime minister exchanged remarks and smiled.

At one time, Putin offered his sunglasses to the Italian premier, who after some time gave them back and used binoculars. Putin was watching the show with the sun glasses on.

At night, when the show began, it was getting cold in Lipetsk and the two put on light coats.

The Lipetsk centre for pilot combat use and retraining was set up in 1953. In the second half of the 1990s, the centre was named after prominent Soviet aviator Valeri Chkalov.

In 2001 the Lipetsk training centre merged with that of Nizhni Novgorod. The head of the centre became Major-General of Aviation Alexander Kharchevski, Candidate of Military Sciences.

Today the centre is the main base for pilot retargeting for the Mig-29, Mig-31, Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, Su-30, Su-39 aviation complexes and retraining different aviation specialists, including foreign.

The Lipetsk training centre is the only one of suchlike centres existing in the times of the USSR. On its working programme are, except pilot training, design-flying tests of warplanes.

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