Fighter jets deployed at the Russian military base in Armenia will continue to increase the frequency of their training flights and thus boost their combat readiness, their commander said on Friday.
“We are now trying to increase the intensity of our practice flights,” Colonel Aleksandr Petrov told reporters at the Erebuni military in Yerevan where most of the MiG-29 warplanes are stationed.
“But we are not alone here,” said Petrov. “An Armenian helicopter squadron also carries out flights here, and whenever they have days off we use them for flights. We are increasing the frequency of our flights to remain in good form.”
Armenia - Russian Air Force pilots at Erebuni airfield in Yerevan, 14Mar2014.
The Russian military has already reported significant increases in such flights carried out in Armenia in the last few years. A February 20 statement by Russia’s Southern Military District said their number and length has risen by 15 percent so far this year.
The Russian base’s aviation unit led by Petrov is believed to have at least 16 MiG-29 jets. The colonel confirmed that three of them have been modernized recently. The other jets at his disposal are also due to have their electronic targeting and navigation systems upgraded soon.
In a further significant boost to Petrov’s unit, Russia will also deploy about two dozen combat helicopters at Erebuni later this year. The planned deployment appears to be part of an ongoing broader reinforcement of the Russian military base with more modern weaponry.
The commander of the base, Colonel Andrey Ruzinsky, caused a stir late last year when he said that his forces reportedly numbering between 4,000 and 5,000 soldiers would fight on the Armenian side should Azerbaijan try to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding lands.
Petrov declined to comment on his immediate superior’s statement. “We have planned tasks and we are accomplishing them,” he said without elaborating.