NATO fighters scramble to escort Russian strategic bombers

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Moscow, Mar 19 (UNI) NATO fighters scrambled to escort the Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers on a regular patrol over the Atlantic today.

"During the flight, the Russian bombers were accompanied by NATO's F-16 and Tornado fighters," RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian Air Force spokesman Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky as saying.

Two Bear strategic bombers conducted a 16-hour patrol mission over the Atlantic Ocean and performed aerial refuelling while flying over neutral waters near Norway en-route to their home bases.

Interceptions of Russian combat aircraft by NATO fighters were becoming a common occurrence, after Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans in last August following an order signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Drobyshevsky reiterated today that regular patrols of Russian strategic bombers do not pose a threat to other countries, and Russia always issues prior warnings of their patrols.

Russian bombers have carried out over 70 strategic patrol flights and have often been escorted by NATO planes since the order was passed in August last.

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