Ukraine begins major air defense exercises

Iran Materials 14 June 2006 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's air defense forces started the country's largest military exercises this year, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry's press service said the exercises aimed to check the combat readiness of air defense duty units during possible terrorist attacks and other emergency situations, reports Trend.

"The army is preparing to fulfill real-life tasks," said Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko.

Gen. Serhiy Kyrychenko, head of the General Staff and chief Commander of Ukraine's Armed Forces, will command the exercises in the ex-communist country, which is aspiring to join NATO.

The air defense units will practice rescuing a hijacked aircraft, protecting Ukrainian air space from planes infiltrating it for reconnaissance missions, and rescuing operations involving crashed civilian and military aircraft.

The training scenario will also include defending of strategic facilities, involving relocation of fighters, bombers and transport planes to air fields in the south and west of the country.

In October 2001, a Ukrainian missile reportedly went astray during naval exercises and hit a Russian passenger jet en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in West Siberia, killing all 78 people on board.