A Russian carrier group that entered the Mediterranean earlier this month has begun a series of naval aviation exercises, a Navy spokesman said Friday.
“The naval aviators are conducting training in dogfighting, high-speed interception and improving their skills in flying intricate aerobatic maneuvers,” Captain of the 1st Class Vadim Serga said.
Russia formed a permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean last year to defend its interests in the region. The move was widely seen as a response to calls for international intervention in the worsening civil war in Syria, Russia’s longtime ally.
The group of ships, led by Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, is currently located in waters near Spain’s Balearic Islands.
In August, Russian media quoted a military source saying a group of Russian warships on a long-distance cruise would soon call at the country’s only Mediterranean naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tartus.
The Admiral Kuznetsov led another group of ships to that facility two years ago.
Serga said that over 20 training flights by the ship’s Su-33 Flanker-D fighter jets were planned.
The group, dispatched by Russia’s Northern Fleet, was escorted by a British destroyer as it approached Scotland last month.