ASTRAKHAN (South Russia), September 16 (RIA Novosti) - Several members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are involved in creating three joint regional air defense structures as part of the CIS integrated air defense network.
Members of the Coordinating Committee on Air Defense under the CIS Defense Ministers' Council met in Astrakhan on Wednesday and discussed setting up East European, Caucasus,
and Central Asian air defense networks.
The CIS integrated air defense network was set up by 10 CIS member countries on February 10, 1995. The main purpose of the network is to secure member-states' airspace, including through early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralize potential aerial threats.
The network currently comprises 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 electronic warfare detachments.
The East European network will be set up by Russia and Belarus in line with an agreement signed in February on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network.
It 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.
Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense battalions on combat duty, and has long been negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which should be available in 2010.
The Caucasus air defense network will be set up by Russia and Armenia. The draft agreement is still in the works and needs additional negotiations to ensure "clear principles of the deployment and command of air defense forces."
"The draft document will be ready by the end of 2009," said Col. Nikolai Babayan, chief of Armenia's Air Defense Forces.
Unlike the East European and Central Asian commands, the airspace of the Caucasus network will not be continuous as Georgia and Azerbaijan separate Russia and Armenia.
Maj. Gen. Okas Saparov, deputy commander of Kazakhstan's Air Defense Forces, said that a working group has been formed to discuss setting up a joint Central Asian regional air defense network, which will involve Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
"Most of the issues dealing with drafting up an agreement [on a joint air defense network] have been resolved," Saparov said.
Kazakhstan signed a contract with Russia in March on the purchase of S-300 air defense missile systems, while Russia operates an airbase in the city of Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.