Russian Bomber Base Planned for Crimea

Russia plans to shift a force of Tu-22M “Backfire” strategic bombers to Crimea as early as 2016, according to press reports. “We hope that in two years the airbase in Gvardeyskoye will again be the base for a missile-carrying regiment of Tu-22M3,” said a Russian military spokesman according to a March 27 report from Jane’s Defense Weekly. Russia purportedly plans to refurbish Hvardiyske Naval Air Base, near Simferopol, as the center of a reinvigorated Black Sea naval aviation force in support of its fleet at Sevastopol. Before the Russian annexation of Crimea, Russia was only permitted to base 22 naval strike aircraft on the peninsula, due to the constraints of its status of forces agreement with Ukraine, according to Jane’s. In addition to the nuclear capable bombers, Russia plans to host a permanent force of fighters, helicopters, and antisubmarine aircraft at Hvardiyske once renovation and upgrades are completed, according to the press report.