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17 Sep 2017

Active phase of the Zapad 2017 exercise began with air assault of the enemy 'lair'

Despite rainy weather the Ruzhansky army exercise area was hot on 17 September when the active phase of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 began. During the active phase the deployment of Belarusian and Russian air force units for destroying the imaginary enemy was practiced. BelTA reporters together with reporters from other Belarusian and foreign mass media as well as military observers from several nations witnessed an airfield under attack from the air force units.

During the first episode four Russian Ka-52 Alligator helicopters reconnoitered the area and destroyed the enemy’s radar station. They were followed by the Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopters and Belarusian Mi-8 helicopters, which managed to blow up an air defense emplacement in the transit corridor for air force units.

After the short skirmish a Russian Su-24MR aircraft found more targets and four Belarusian Su-25 assault aircraft dropped their bombs, launched unguided missiles, and used cannons against an army aviation site of the enemy.

After that the enemy’s runway faced an assault by Russian Su-34 aircraft. After that four Belarusian Yak-52 aircraft flew in pairs to drop bombs on targets posing as an automobile bridge and trucks.

Russian army forces continued the battle. A Su-24MR bomber found new targets for Belarusian Su-25 aircraft to destroy. They smashed to pieces an army aviation site, dropped bombs, launched unguided missiles, and used cannons to shoot at an aircraft parking lot.

After that, flying one after another, four Su-34 attack aircraft delivered strikes against a runway and an aircraft parking lot of the enemy.

The battle ended with four Belarusian Yak-130 aircraft flying in pairs to destroy an automobile bridge and trucks.

Apart from multiple reporters military observers from Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, and Norway closely followed the action in the Ruzhansky exercise area.

Some of them did not talk much while others eagerly shared their impressions. “What we saw today was interesting. It was well-prepared,” noted an observer from Sweden. “Judging by these wargames, the Belarusian and Russian armies are well-trained.”

According to the OSCE observer Ragnhild Valle Hustad, the Zapad 2017 army exercise is proceeding in a transparent and open manner. “We are grateful for the Belarusian side inviting us as observers even though the number of troops involved is below the [mandatory foreign observation] threshold set by international documents,” pointed out the OSCE observer.

The key events of the active phase of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 will continue in the Osipovichsky exercise area on 18 September. Belarusian and Russian army units will practice protecting a defensive belt over there. The next day air defense units will demonstrate their skills in the Domanovo exercise area. The Zapad 2017 exercise will end on 20 September.


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