Russia set to have military airbase in Belarus’ Babruysk

A Russian airbase for Sukhoi Su-27 (Flanker) fighter jets will be established in Babruysk, in eastern Belarus, in 2016.

A Russian airbase for Sukhoi Su-27 (Flanker) fighter jets will be established in Babruysk, in eastern Belarus, in 2016, General Colonel Viktor Bondarev, commander-in-chief of Russia’s Air Force, said Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies.

Mr. Bondarev noted that the fighter jets would be based at a military airfield in Babruysk, which he said would be renovated and modernized.

Mr. Bondarev said two months ago that the Russian airbase would be located in Baranavichy, Brest region, and not in Lida, Hrodna region, as was initially reported. "We have never planned [to establish an airbase] in Lida, it will be in Baranavichy," he said.

In June 2013, Mr. Bondarev said that a Russian airbase would be located in Lida and begin operation later in the year.

Aleh Dvihalyow, commander-in-chief of Belarus’ Air and Air Defense Force, told reporters on March 12, 2014 that the Russian Federation’s fighter jets would be transferred to airfields in Belarus under an agreement with Russian authorities, “Today I was ordered to build up the strength of the active-duty units of the Common Regional Air Defense System of Belarus and Russia,” General Major Dvihalyow said, noting that the measures to be taken for this purpose would include the relocation of Russian fighter jets to airfields in Belarus.

Mr. Dvihalyow, who was appointed commander of the Common Regional Air Defense System by a joint decision of the presidents of Belarus and Russia in August 2013, did not specify how many Russian military aircraft would be sent to Belarus, but Alyaksandr Lukashenka said earlier in the day that Belarus would ask Russia to deploy 12 to 15 warplanes in its territory in response to increased NATO activity near Belarus.

A flight of four Su-27SM3s of the Russian Air Force arrived at the 61st Fighter Jet Airbase in Baranavichy on December 8, 2013, to patrol the Belarusian-Russian Union State’s border.

Six Su-27 fighter jets and three military transport aircraft landed at the airfield in Babruysk, Mahilyow region, on March 13, 2014. One Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft later arrived in Baranavichy.

The number of Russia’s Su-27s in Belarus was expected to increase to 24 by the end of this year.

There are two Russian military facilities in Belarus: an Antei long-range naval communications station near the city of Vileyka, Minsk region, and a Volga missile attack early warning radar station near Hantsavichy, Brest region.

The Vileyka station reportedly has an autonomous diesel power plant whose capacity is enough to fully supply the electricity needs of not only the station but also key industrial and social facilities in Vileyka.

Activated in 1964, the Vileyka facility was placed on permanent duty in 1988. The facility, which serves to secure communication of the Russian Armed Forces` General Staff and the Russian Navy`s General Staff with warships, is located 10 kilometers off Vileyka, a city of 30,000 residents.

The station near Hantsavichy, which was put into operation in 2003, monitors Belarus` western border to detect missiles launched from Europe and the Atlantic Ocean and survey the patrol area of NATO submarines in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. The radar is a key element in Russia`s Missile Attack Warning System. It helped restore the integrity of the observation area in the west and northwest, which was disrupted after the closure of an early warning system in Skrunda, Latvia, in 1999. It is reportedly able to track flying ballistic missiles and space objects 4,800 kilometers away, and identify, follow and measure targets, scanning a 120-degree azimuthal sector.