His troops have an emergency programme they have coordinated with the General Staff and Moscow's municipal authorities. It envisages all-round and unbroken radar monitoring of the air and flight control in Moscow and its close environs.
The programme takes into consideration the 11/9 tragedy in the USA and recent plane blasts in Russia. It accordingly envisages ten to twelve radar and weapon installations in Moscow highrises-for instance, a Panzir missile installation or artillery pieces, all automated. "If you approach a taboo area, you must know you will be surely shot down," said General Solovyev. The arrangement needs laws to back it. Meanwhile, his troops are only authorised to bring down warplanes or hijacked liners, provided the crew and passengers are no longer on board.
As acting orders have it, a plane with the crew and passengers inside is to be forced to land in an appointed airfield. That is easier said than done, complained the general. "This is how I see the matter. If we know for sure a plane has been hijacked and is approaching a city, it has to be destroyed. The casualties and damages will be incomparable to what we shall have if the terrorists do what they want." If there is sufficient computerised weaponry, it will take forty to fifty seconds-a minute and a half, at the longest-to bring the plane down.
The Itogi asked General Solovyev whether there will be a necessity to reinstate an air safety network in and round Moscow in case the Russian Anti-Aircraft Troops are upgraded back into an independent branch of the Armed Forces.
He said the network has survived. "It is smaller than it was once, but it's coping, OK." The net comprises the 16th Air Army and two AA corps, total strength approaching 50,000, more than 2,000 of the personnel on round-the-clock duty at a time-four AA missile regiments and ten to twelve radars. Their arsenal has S 300 missile installations of several modifications. An S 400 will join them next year. The AA network also has MIG 25, 29 and 31, and SU 24, 25 and 27 fighter craft.