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    Tu-160 bomber to remain core of Russian long-range aviation

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    Russia's Air Force will continue to upgrade and modernize its assets, but it has enough aircraft to carry out strategic missions, the commander-in-chief of Strategic Bomber Aviation said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Air Force will continue to upgrade and modernize its assets, but it has enough aircraft to carry out strategic missions, the commander-in-chief of Strategic Bomber Aviation said Tuesday.

    "We have enough aircraft to carry out the missions entrusted to Strategic Bomber Aviation and to meet existing threats," Lt. Gen. Igor Khvorov said.

    He said the Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber, which first took to the skies December 19, 1981, will continue to be the mainstay of Strategic Bomber Aviation.

    "Heavy aircraft are designed for the long term, so this airplane will meet all the necessary requirements for at least another 30 years," he said, adding that a modernized version will soon be available.

    Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in July that Russia's Air Force has commissioned a modernized Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber and could receive the new airplane by the end of the year.

    He said the modernized bomber demonstrates Russia's increased defense capabilities, and the new weaponry and avionics installed on the aircraft will allow the country to look to the future with confidence and a sense of security.

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