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    Russia to conduct military exercises in Indian Ocean this fall

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    Russian Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers will join the Russian navy in a series of exercises in the Indian Ocean, the Air Force commander said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers will join the Russian navy in a series of exercises in the Indian Ocean, the Air Force commander said on Tuesday. (Russian strategic bombers - Image gallery)

    "We are preparing the flights of our strategic aircraft to the Indian ocean to practice interoperability with the Russian navy task force in the region," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said.

    A Defense Ministry source later confirmed that a joint exercise involving Russian strategic bombers and combat ships had been scheduled for the fall 2008.

    The AF commander said that the Air Force had received orders to increase joint training with the Navy and the number of patrol flights across the world's oceans to ensure the security of Russian shipping in strategically and economically important zones.

    Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former president Vladimir Putin.

    "Since August 2007, Russian strategic bombers have carried out about 150 patrol flights with tactical interference of foreign aircraft, which accompanied our planes on their missions and in some instances jeopardized the success of these missions," Zelin said.

    The patrols allowed the crews of Russian strategic bombers and aerial tankers to gain experience in mid-air refueling, flights in northern latitudes and the use of forward landing airfields, the general said.

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