Combat Commonwealth 2013 air defence exercise begins
Member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) joint air defence system are participating in a large-scale air defence exercise, code-named Combat Commonwealth 2013, in the Volga region, Russia.
Russian Aerospace Defense Troops spokesman colonel Alexei Zolotukhin was quoted by Itar-Tass News Agency as saying that the exercise commenced with the switching of the Russian Aerospace Defense Troops units deployed in the Moscow region to full combat readiness.
''They will bring together more than 500 servicemen, 100 units of military hardware and equipment, including the S-400 Triumph, S-300 Favorit air defence missile systems and Pantsir-S short-range air defence systems,'' Zolotukhin added.
Spread across three phases, the exercise involves the participation of air defence units from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
After starting with the master switching of troops to full combat readiness at the places of their deployment, the first phase is scheduled to conclude with re-deployment of servicemen and military hardware of air defence units to a testing range in Ashuluk in the Astrakhan region, southern Russia.
The re-deployment will be followed by an active phase of the exercise.
Noting that trains and aircraft will be used for personnel and hardware transport to the range, Zolotukhin said, ''Other member-states of the CIS joint air defense system are participating in the drills as observers.''
The exercise is scheduled to conclude on 12 September 2013.
Carried out annually, the Combat Commonwealth exercise forms part of efforts to build a joint air defence shield, which was initially established by the ten CIS member countries in February 1995, according to RIA Novosti.
The shield primarily aims to ensure protection of member countries' airspace, by providing early warning of missile attacks and supporting the coordination of joint efforts to neutralise potential air threats.