Russia is strengthening its forces on the country’s western border, and the Kremlin will further reinforce its army in the region with more than 20 attack helicopters by the end of 2015, Russia’s Western Military District announced Tuesday. The move comes amid growing tensions between Moscow and the West as NATO forces step up military presence in areas close to Russia's borders in Eastern Europe.
“New army aircraft are equipped with cutting-edge electronics that allow them to perform training and combat tasks 24 hours a day in any weather conditions,” Russia’s Sputnik News quoted Col. Oleg Kochetkov, chief of Russia’s Western Military District’s press service, as saying.
The attack choppers will include new Mi-28Ns, Mi-26Ts and Mi-8MTV5s, manufactured by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. The helicopters will be deployed in Russia’s westernmost regions of Leningrad, Pskov and Smolensk, Sputnik News reported.
Tuesday’s announcement followed last week’s media reports that NATO may include about 40,000 troops in its rapid response Spearhead Force, with most of those troops expected to be stationed in Eastern Europe. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also said Monday that the country will help NATO with aircraft, weapons and forces to help it protect Europe from security threats.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry is also planning to upgrade the entire fleet of the country’s Ilyushin-38 anti-submarine planes, TASS news agency reported Tuesday, citing naval aviation commander Igor Kozhin.
“The contract is in the discussion phase. It is impossible to name any specific figures at this point (number of planes and dates), but the entire fleet is to undergo upgrade,” TASS quoted Kozhin as saying.
The Ilyushin-38 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft will be upgraded to the Ilyushin-38N with an advanced search and target track system, called “Novella-P-38,” Kozhin said, adding that the upgraded aircraft will be ready for its maiden flight by 2020.