MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Tu-95MS “Bear” strategic bombers, accompanied by supersonic Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptors, have conducted test flights over neutral waters of the North Sea, a senior Air Force official told reporters Thursday.
Russia’s strategic bomber force regularly performs flights over neutral waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The flights sometimes prompt a reaction by neighboring countries. Japan has scrambled aircraft to escort such flights several times since the beginning of the month.
The Russian Defense Ministry has insisted that the flights are carried out "in strict accordance with international regulations" and do not violate the borders of other countries.
"The flight route was over the neutral waters of the North Sea, along the Kola Peninsula. The aircraft have flown some 12,000 kilometers. The flight duration exceeded 16 hours," Col. Igor Klimov said.
The crews were training to fly over featureless terrain and perform aerial refueling. A pair of MiG-31 interceptors escorted the bombers, interacting via an A-50 airborne early warning aircraft.
The Tupolev-95 (NATO designation Bear) is a Russian turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. The bomber, the fastest propeller aircraft ever built, is a famous symbol of the Cold War.
The Tu-95MS variant, equipped with the X-55 cruise missile, is the backbone of the modern Russian strategic bomber force. The plane is designed to destroy critical facilities in the rear of the enemy at any time and under any weather conditions.