The Russian Navy and Air Force on Friday kicked off a series of exercises in the eastern Mediterranean that for the first time includes fighter planes capable of carrying hypersonic missiles.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that five ships of the Russian Navy, including the missile cruiser Moscow and the frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov, as well as the submarines Oskol and Rostov-on-Don, will conduct maneuvers aimed at practicing defense of Russia's Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval base in Syria.
The exercises include Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft, Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers and MiG-31K fighter planes. The MiGs, which recently arrived in Syria for the first time, are capable of carrying the hypersonic Kinzhal missile that can reach a speed of Mach 10, carry a nuclear warhead, and, according to the Russians, can outperform any air defense or anti-missile system. Russia's Defense Ministry announced that during the exercises this week the aircraft's performance in difficult climate conditions, mainly in high temperatures, will be tested.
Meanwhile, the British Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, carrying 10 American F-35 stealth fighters, is also currently in the eastern Mediterranean.