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Russia sends hypersonic fighter jets to Syria for naval exercises – report

Russia sends hypersonic fighter jets to Syria for naval exercises – report

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has deployed MiG-31K combat aircraft equipped with hypersonic Kinzal missiles and Tu-22M long-range strategic bombers to its air base in Syria for naval exercises, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the defense ministry. Ministry.

The planes sent to the Russian Hmeimim Air Base will participate in exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, in the context of the escalation of Russian military activity amid a confrontation with the West over Ukraine and security in Europe.

Moscow announced on January 20 that its naval fleet will organize a set of exercises involving all of its fleets from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, with the participation of 10,000 soldiers, 140 warships and dozens of aircraft.

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Damascus, led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been a staunch ally of Moscow since Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in 2015. Aside from the Hmeimim air base, Russia also controls the Tartus naval facility.

Russia sent fighter jets with Kinzal missiles for the first time last year after expanding the runway at the base to handle such aircraft, said Rob Lee, a military analyst at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

He said that the deployments indicate the growing Russian military presence in the Middle East and its ability to operate in different regions and display its strength.

Russian media said that the hypersonic Kinzal missile could hit targets at a distance of 2,000 km. It is one of several strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018.

Additional reporting by Tom Palmforth and Paulina Devitt. Editing by Bernadette Bohm

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