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Russian Bombers On Year's First Training Exercise

Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to rebuild the military.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian strategic bombers have carried out their first training exercise of the year, firing cruise missiles at a training ground in northern Russia, Interfax news agency reported.

It quoted an aide to the air force commander, Colonel Vladimir Drik, as saying six Tu-95MC and Tu-160 bombers took part in the exercise at Pemboi training ground.

"A few minutes ago the last pair of bombers returned to their air bases after firing cruise missiles at Pemboi," he said. "This was the first training this year. All targets were hit successfully."

During the economic boom of the past 10 years, Russia spent hundreds of billions of dollars on improving its armed forces, regarded by the Kremlin as a symbol of national resurgence, as well as a guarantee of national security.

Renewed activity by Russia's strategic bombers over the Atlantic and regular tests of strategic missiles have rung alarm bells in the West suspicious of Moscow's ambitions.

President Dmitry Medvedev said this week defense would remain a priority, despite the economic crisis facing the country. He promised to launch a large-scale program to rearm the military in 2011.