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Sunday, January 31, 2010
Russia to test stealth fighter as rearmament cranks into gear
The maiden flight of the T-50 advanced frontline fighter jet underlines the Kremlin's determination to overhaul its ageing Soviet-era weaponry at a time when it is locked in key nuclear arms reductions talks with the United States.
President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, his Russian counterpart, discussed a new nuclear arms treaty as recently as last Wednesday. The putative treaty would slash the number of war heads both countries possess and is seen as the centrepiece of a thus far largely rhetorical "reset" in relations between Moscow and Washington. Negotiators have been hammering out the details of such a deal for months and are said to be weeks if not days away from a final settlement.
Russian military experts say the plane is needed to defend Russia's enormous borders and to ensure the country can take on its neighbours in the event of any localised conflicts such as its 2008 war with Georgia.