MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - The integrated Russian-Belarusian regional air defense network will be part of the integrated air defense network of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Russia's Air Force chief said on Tuesday.
Moscow and Minsk signed on February 3 an agreement on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network.
The network will comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare unit, and will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander.
The CIS integrated air defense network was set up by 10 CIS member countries on February 10, 1995. Georgia has recently withdrawn from the network following a brief military conflict with Russia over South Ossetia in August.
The main purpose of the network is to ensure the protection of the member-countries' airspace, early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralize potential air threats.
"The CIS integrated air defense network is intended to accomplish a variety of tasks, including missile early warning and countering attacks of a potential enemy. We [Russia] will certainly participate in the defense of any of the member-states, if their airspace is violated," Zelin said.
The CIS network currently comprises seven air defense brigades, 46 units equipped with S-200 and S-300 air defense missile systems, 23 fighter units equipped with MiG-29, MiG-31 and Su-27 aircraft, 22 electronic support units and two detachments of electronic warfare.
Russia's Air Force commander said CIS members would conduct this year large-scale air defense exercises as part of the integrated air defense network at the Ashuluk training ground, in Russia's Astrakhan Region near the Caspian Sea.
"During the Combat Commonwealth 2009 exercise, which involves live-firing drills, we are planning to practice joint deployment of CIS integrated air defense network's units on a theater- operational scale in simulated conditions of a military-political crisis in one of the regions included in the collective security zone," Zelin said.