Mr Putin is buckling his swash, flexing his military muscles big style in the Bay of Biscay - a spectacle calculated to unnerve the NATO defence planners and boost his popularity back home. On Tuesday 2 "Blackjack" bombers used the Bay to test fire missiles - escorted by British and Norwegian Tornado and F-16 jets (not Typhoons / Eurofighters ! (out of range ?) according to Interfax / Reuters were escorting the Russian 'Blackjack' bombers, Interfax reported, quoting the Russian Air Force.
The Russian bombers joined aircraft carriers, battleships and submarine hunters from the Northern and Black Sea fleets for the Atlantic exercises, in the bioggest Russian naval exercises since Yeltsin and the Berlin wall fell.
Last month Russia tooled up for major navy exercises in the Mediterranean, with 11 ships the navy's flagship (and only) aircraft carrier, the Soviet-made Admiral Kuznetsov (launched 1985) commanded by Vice Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, the commander of the Northern Fleet. It is backed up by 47 aircraft, the missile carrying cruiser Moskva, the large anti-submarine ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, and the supply ships Sergei Osipov and Nikolai Chiker left the Mediterranean on January 19, passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and reached the Atlantic.
Russia's air force said turbo-prop Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers, codenamed "Bear" by NATO, would join the exercise on Wednesday - they have been patrolling the North Sea for months and have the capacity to carryup to 6 internal AS-15 nuclear armed missiles that have a range of almost 2000 km.. Russian sources said that from tommorrow (Wed) the following planes would be involved : Tu-160 (Nato code "Blackjack" supersonic, variable geometry, strategic low-level penetration heavy bomber. ) , Tu-95 (Bear) , Tu-22 M3 "Blinder", Il-78 ("Midas" flight tankers and re-fuellers), A-50,SDRLO (Long Range Detection System)"
Meanwhile back at the ranch ...The second battery of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile defense systems will be deployed in the Moscow region at the end of this year, Special Forces Commander Col. Gen. Yuri Solovyov said in Moscow yesterday.
"We expect the second regiment of S-400 systems to be deployed in the Moscow region in the end of this year."
See also Existentialist Cowboy and the Russki Strangelovian Muscovite missile Defence system
Many of the comments on this Times article "Russian bombers to test-fire missiles in Bay of Biscay" are worth reading.