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    Over 40 aircraft of Russia's Air Force will take part in the final stage of a naval exercise in the Atlantic starting on Monday, an aide to the Air Force commander said.

    MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - Over 40 aircraft of Russia's Air Force will take part in the final stage of a naval exercise in the Atlantic starting on Monday, an aide to the Air Force commander said.

    "During the exercises, from January 28 to February 2, Russian pilots will practice reconnaissance, missile and bomb strikes on the [theoretical] enemy's naval task force, and will conduct air fights and air patrolling," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

    He said two A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft and four Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers have already flown to the Atlantic to join the naval exercises.

    Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-95MS Bears, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft will also participate in the drills, he said.

    Drobyshevsky said all flights by Russian aircraft would be performed in strict compliance with international rules for the use of air space over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states.

    Russia's naval task force, comprising the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, is currently on a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic.

    The flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 to participate in the current maneuvers.

    The current operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic in 15 years. All combat ships and aircraft involved carry full combat ammunition loads.

    Commander of Russia's Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, who is heading the task force, earlier said that the current tour of duty to the Mediterranean, which started on December 5, was aimed at ensuring Russia's naval presence "in key operational areas of the world's oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation.

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