Air Force Chief Reports Drop In Chechnya Sorties

The Russian Air Force has sharply decreased the number of sorties in Chechnya lately, Air Force commander-in-chief, General of the Army Anatoly Kornukov, told reporters on Sunday. "It couldn't have been otherwise," he insisted. "There are no large militant bands left in Chechnya." But he said that Russian warplanes still make one or two sorties every 24 hours in Chechnya to conduct reconnaissance or attack isolated paramilitaries. The general said that helicopter gunships now do most of the job. Kornukov went on to say the Air Force is to procure the advanced new S-400 Triumf missile launch system to enhance the country's air defense capability. However, the Air Force will not purchase new Su-27 and Su-27IB fighter jets until 2003, he said.

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