Four Russian air force Sukhoi Su-34 attack planes flew over the North Pole recently. The epic mission is the latest development in the increasing militarization of the Arctic region.
According to the Interfax news agency, the four bombers refueled twice during the flight, performing air-to-air refueling in pairs.
The twin-engine, twin-seat warplanes together covered a combined distance of more than 50,000 kilometers in three days. Each Su-34 spent about 20 hours in flight.
The Su-34s—Moscow’s newest strike planes—aren’t the only Russian jets to have operated in the Arctic lately. MiG-31 interceptors have flown as far north as the 82nd parallel, demonstrating their ability to chase down targets around the North Pole.
Russian air force colonel-general Viktor Bondarev told ITAR-TASS that the air arm is preparing to send the MiG-31s even farther north during future exercises.
Production of the MiG-31 ended in the early 1990s, but Russia is upgrading the aircraft to extend its service life out to 2030, at which point Moscow hopes a replacement will be available.
At top—an Su-34. Photo via Wikipedia. Sign up for a daily War Is Boring email update here. Subscribe to WIB’s RSS feed here and follow the main page here.