MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) – Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) started on Wednesday large-scale drills to test the capabilities of their joint air defense network, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“The exercises involve air defense and air force units from Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine,” spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.
The drills are aimed at improving combat capabilities and interoperability of the units protecting the CIS airspace. They are coordinated from the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces' headquarters outside Moscow.
More than 9,000 personnel, 130 command posts of various levels, about 160 electronic warfare units and some 100 aircraft, including A-50 AWACS planes, are taking part in the exercises.
The drills are part of efforts to build a joint air defense shield for the CIS, a loose association of former Soviet republics. An integrated air defense network was set up by CIS-member countries on February 10, 1995.
The main purpose of the network is to ensure the protection of the member-countries' airspace, early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralize potential air threats.