Russia conducted the largest exercises of its strategic nuclear forces since the demise of the Soviet Union, engaging its heavy bombers and its submarine- and land-based ballistic missiles, announced the Kremlin. The exercises concluded on Oct. 20, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin personally reviewed the nuclear forces’ management and oversaw test launches of ballistic and cruise missiles that “reached set targets at various military testing grounds,” states the release. Reuters reported (via Canada’s Globe and Mail) that the Russians launched an SS-25 ICBM from the Plesetsk site in northwest Russia, while a submarine fired a long-range missile from the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s far east. Further, Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers fired four cruise missiles that hit their targets on a testing range in the Komi region of northwest Russia, according to the newspaper. The Kremlin said Putin gave a “high assessment” to the units involved and the military’s general staff “who all accomplished the tasks set and proved [the] reliability and efficiency of Russian’s nuclear forces.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.