“We have always shown the Americans there that we can get them”
In the central Pacific, there was an extensive exercise of the Russian Naval Group. The Navy and Naval Aviation took place. Such naval maneuvers in this area take place for the first time since the collapse of the USSR. The Ministry of Culture asked the former commander of long-range aircraft (1997-2003), a member of the public council of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Lieutenant General Mikhail Oparin, to comment on the flights of our long-range aircraft over the Pacific Ocean.
Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
According to the Ministry of Defense, in one phase of the exercise, two long-range Tu-142M3 anti-submarine aircraft flew from Kamchatka Jelizovo Airport to the maneuver area in the central Pacific Ocean. The flight lasted more than 14 hours, the planes covered 10,000 kilometers.
How important are such flights and what tasks are solved during them? The former commander of long-distance aviation, Lieutenant General Mikhail Oparin, answered these questions “MK”. According to him, full-scale flights are very important, among other things, to prove the capabilities of our aviation. After 1991, during the Yeltsin era, Russia unilaterally abandoned strategic patrol flights. At the same time, the Americans never stopped such flights.
“When I took command in 1997, the first thing we did after a six-year hiatus was to resume flights of strategic aircraft to remote geographical areas,” said Mikhail Oparin. – We started flights first towards the North Pole, to Canada, then “around the corner”, that is, bypassing Scandinavia to the North Atlantic. In the east – flights over the Pacific Ocean. We have restored all the skills of the crews to fly over neutral waters and their development is not so easy. For many years, the crews that flew were preparing for long-haul flights. And the very organization of these refueling flights is a very difficult task.
According to the general, the long-distance aviation command began patrolling flights before President Yeltsin's decree.
– When our “strategists” crossed the Arctic, along Canada, the Americans shouted: you're stuck again! What are they doing there? Most notably, the Russian press then supported the Americans. It was time. On command, we went a little crazy. Then we remembered, in the tail and mane. But we have restored the skills of the crews. And since 1998, they have been operating these long-haul flights regularly. That was task number one.
Later, when I left work, they also did it. My son served in long-distance aviation. With his comrades-in-arms, he managed these flights across the Pacific Ocean towards San Francisco. Duration 20 hours.
So this area of the Pacific Ocean, where fleet maneuvers are now taking place, is our home area. We've kept it at the barrel since the Cold War.
I don't know if our planes flew to Guam, the main US naval force, during these exercises. But we always showed them a fig there so they knew we would get them here too.
In general, long flights are a common job for long-distance passengers.