The Russian Army's newly created aviation brigade has started combat training flights in the north-west of the country, close to its borders with the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia.
Russian Western Military district spokesperson colonel Oleg Kochetkov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the district's army aviation brigade helicopters, based in the Pskov region, have started regular training flights over north-western Russia.
The training sorties involve several Mi-28N Night Hunter and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters, as well as Mi-8MTV-5 and Mi-26T combat transport helicopters, Kochetkov added.
Kochetkov also said that the aim of the training flights is to enable crews to master tasks of flight navigation, piloting techniques, air and ground search, and the process of landing on infrastructure-free landing grounds.
Established in December 2013 and fully equipped with new, recently-built helicopters, the 15th army aviation brigade currently comprises three helicopter squadrons and is awaiting the addition of two more brigades in the near future.
The stationing of the brigade at the Ostrov airbase, located near Nato's border, sparked security concerns from the former Soviet Baltic states, as well as Germany, Poland and the UK, according to RIA Novosti.
Russia had also started ground and air exercises involving southern and western military districts units near the borders with Ukraine and the Baltic states late last month, in an apparent response to an 'unprecedented' increase of Nato military activity near its territory amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In addition to strengthening its military presence in the Baltic region, Nato has also committed to further air patrols over Eastern Europe and additional ships in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas.
Image: The Russian Army's training flights involve several Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters. Photo: courtesy of ?????? ????? ????????????.