Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers that carried out a routine patrol flight over the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans were shadowed by 'regular' NATO fighters, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Spokesman Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said the bombers spent over 12 hours in the air on Thursday and were shadowed by two NATO F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.
A similar patrol mission on September 29 was shadowed by an F-22 Raptor that uses stealth technology, reportedly the first time the world's only fifth-generation fighter aircraft was sent out to keep an eye on Russian planes.
Russian strategic bombers resumed patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans in August 2007, following an order from then-president Vladimir Putin, and are usually shadowed by less sophisticated NATO aircraft.
All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict compliance with international law on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without intruding in the airspace of other states, the ministry said.
Russia has yet to develop a fifth-generation fighter and is only planning to start testing a prototype, known as the T-50, in 2010. Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin has said the fighter, which has been under development since the 1990s, will enter service with the Air Force in 2015.
MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti)