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More than 80 Mil Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters are being re-deployed from their bases in Russia's Western Military Districts to emergency airfields, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax-AVN on Friday.
"Army aviation units of the Western Military Districts are being re-deployed to emergency airfields, located more than 500 kilometers from their permanent bases, as part of a continuing inspection of the combat readiness of forces deployed in the Western and Central Military Districts," he said.
"The army aviation units are flying within ordinary squadrons and formations. During the re-deployment, the helicopter pilots are perfecting their piloting skills within a unit and practicing air support for Land Forces units engaged in long-distance marches toward their destination areas," the spokesman said.
"The crews of army aviation helicopters are monitoring officers' radio communication during the marches in order to assess Land Forces units' compliance with the rules for radio communication. Apart from that, specialists in charge of monitoring compliance with the rules for frequencies use are attempting to track down any possible airwave trespassers who are using frequencies outside of the permitted range," he said.
"According to instructions issued by officers of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, pilots are informed of their mission tasks, destination and other duties immediately ahead of their departure," the spokesman said.
These helicopter crews will subsequently join simulated search and rescue operations during the exercises, which will also include efforts to track down and destroy an imaginary adversary's units and armored targets at unfamiliar training ranges of the Western Military District.
Up to 150,000 personnel of the Western and Central Military Districts, 90 airplanes, over 120 helicopters, up to 880 tanks, over 1,200 units of military hardware and up to 80 ships and vessels have been involved in the surprise drills, which were ordered by Russian President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin on February 26.