Kyrgyz Air Base May Soon Host Russian Strategic Bombers

Kyrgyz Air Base May Soon Host Russian Strategic Bombers

September 22

The overhauled airfield at the Russian air base in Kyrgyzstan will be able to accommodate Russian strategic bombers in six months, but their deployment in the Central Asian state needs thorough consideration, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

“Technically, we will complete the reconstruction [of the runway at the Kant airbase] in half a year,” Serdyukov told reporters on Friday.

“It means that, in theory, the airfield will be able to receive our strategic aircraft in six months, but any actual landing of these aircraft is a move that should be considered thoroughly," he said.

Moscow and Bishkek signed in August a new deal, which extends the presence of Russian military facilities in Kyrgyzstan, including a Russian airbase in Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the capital, Bishkek, for another 15 years.

The Kant airbase operates in the interests of the Collective Security Treaty Organization - a regional security body.

The base was established in October 2003, and currently hosts about 700 servicemen, as well as several Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft and Su-27 Flanker fighters, two Mi-8 combat transport helicopters, and four L-39 combat trainers.

Russia pays $4.5 million annually to rent its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, Bishkek has confirmed plans to close a U.S. air base used to fly troops in and out of Afghanistan after Washington's lease expires in 2014.