When Russia is playing with fire

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force had to scramble fighter jets in response to flights by Russian military aircraft near Japanese airspace on Wednesday, Kyodo news agency said on Thursday citing the Defense Ministry. According to the ministry, a total of five Russian planes, including two Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, two Su-24 Fencer reconnaissance planes and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft skirted Japanese territory on Wednesday.

“They flew over the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan off Hokkaido and the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan,” Japanese officials said, adding that it was the first time a Russian AWACS plane was spotted near Japan. “All flights by air force aircraft were carried out and are carried out in strict accordance with international rules on use of airspace above international waters, and not violating the borders of other states,” he said. “They were escorted by on their flights by Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft,” Drik said.

This episode reminded the Japanese that the Russians never play, as the 747 shoot down over Sakhaline demonstrated a few decades ago. So what is frightening is the reasoning behind this exercise by the Russians, who are willing to scare a neighbor and eventually show themselves to the world as warmongers. This is not reassuring a few months from the Russian presidential elections which should reinstate Vladimir Poutine back to the throne.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans in August 2007. Yesterday’s flights by Russian Air Force aircraft close to the coast of Japan were carried out strictly in accordance with international rules and took place over international waters, air force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said on Thursday.

The Rafale is going to India

France’s Dassault Rafale has won a $10 billion tender for 126 fighter aircraft from the Indian Air Force, NDTV reported on Tuesday, quoting unnamed Air Force sources.

A final contract signing will take place only in the next financial year however, local media said quoting a Defense Ministry source.

If the report is correct, it would be the first export sale of Rafale, which is currently in service with the French Navy and Air Force.

Six aircraft types were originally competing for the tender, including Russia’s MiG-35. The Indians narrowed the six down to just two aircraft types last year, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale.

The first 18 aircraft will be built by the original manufacturer and the remaining 108 under license by HAL in India.