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© Vitaly V Kuzmin
The Russian Air Force deployed four Su-27SM3 fighters to Belarus in December 2013
The Russian Defence Ministry will open a new airbase in Belarus in 2016, Russian Air Force commander colonel general Viktor Bondarev has said.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Russia's under construction facilities, Bondarev said: "The Russian Air Force base in Belarus will open in 2016. Su-27 fighters will be stationed there."

The Su-27 fighters are expected to be deployed at a military airfield in the Belarusian city of Bobruisk. Russia has drafted a technical plan for the reconstruction of the airfield.

Russia deployed four Su-27SM3 fighter jets to the 61st air base in Baranavichi, Belarus, in December 2013, and is expected to increase the number to 24 by the year-end.

An upgraded variant of the Su-27 Flanker, Su-27SM3 jets are used to carry out tasks in support of the Union State of Russia and Belarus Air Force, ITAR-TASS News Agency reported.

Manufactured by Sukhoi, the Su-27 Flanker is a twin-engine super manoeuvrable fighter aircraft designed to provide general air defence in cooperation with ground and airborne control stations.

Armed with a 30mm GSh-301 gun with 150 rounds of ammunition and a range of missiles, rockets and bombs, the aircraft can operate autonomously in combat over hostile territory, in escort of deep-penetration strike aircraft and in the suppression of enemy airfields.

As of January 2014, the Russian Air Force had 359 Su-27 aircraft in its service, including 225 Su-27s, 70 Su-27SMs, 12 Su-27SM3s, and 52 Su-27UB fighters.

The aircraft is also operated by the air forces of Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Russia has a Volga-type radar station, which forms a part of the anti-missile radar system, and a naval communication centre in Belarus, Charter'97 reported.