In March, two Russian Naval Aviation Tu-142 Bear-F/Bear-J maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft carried out Russia’s first flight to North American airspace via the North Pole since the end of the Cold War. The aircraft were refuelled in flight and accompanied by fighters for part of the mission. Tu-142s also carried out anti-submarine warfare exercises in the eastern Mediterranean during March, operating from bases in southern Russia.
Also in March, two MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors assigned to the Russian Pacific Fleet were scrambled from a base in Kamchatka to carry out a ground-controlled intercept of an Il-38N May over the Arctic. This was the first such mission, which involved a round-trip nonstop mission of over 4,000km (2,485 miles). The interceptors were both refuelled twice by Il-78 Midas tankers. David C Isby