Russian and Armenian air defense forces, based at Chobankara and Gyumri in Armenia, began yesterday the first exercise of their modernized joint air defense system. The exercise marks the beginning of regular patrol duty over Armenia by Russian and Armenian interceptor planes. This bilateral, operational exercise appears to be combined with a command-staff drill involving the other countries in the CIS joint air defense system–namely, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russia’s Air Force commander, Colonel-General Anatoly Kornukov, coordinates the action from the Russian air defense forces’ central command post in the Moscow region.
The exercise in Armenia rehearses a situation in which an intruding enemy plane overflies what the Russian side routinely terms “CIS territory” [legally nonexistent]. The Russian-Armenian joint air defense is assigned to force that plane to land at an Armenian airport, or, failing compliance, to shoot the plane down. The exercise also involves aerial reconnaissance, simulated strikes at air targets and electronic jamming. Armenia’s air defense commander, Colonel Ararat Ambarian, explicitly confirmed yesterday that Russia has deployed a second batch of five MiG-29 interceptors in Armenia–an increment that officials had recently hinted at. Eight more are due to arrive next month at the Chobankara base, while the newly delivered S-300 surface-to-air missiles are being installed at the Gyumri base (Itar-Tass, April 22; see the Monitor, April 15-16; and The Fortnight in Review, April 23).
KARIMOV HINTS AT “IMPERIAL” HAND BEHIND TERRORIST ATTACK.