Russian military personnel arrive in Biak for navigation exercises
Two Russian Ilyushin-76 strategic airlifters carrying 81 military personnel arrived at Frans Kaisiepo Airport in Biak regency, Papua on Monday and early Tuesday for navigation exercises as well as sightseeing in Indonesia’s easternmost province.
Manuhua Biak Airport spokesperson First Lieutenant Putukade Wempy said the military personnel would be in Biak from Dec. 4 to 9.
“They will only stay in Biak. They won’t go anywhere else,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Besides the two planes that have already arrived, Wempy said they expected two Tupelov TU-95 bomber planes. When they arrived, there would be a total of 110 Russian military personnel in Biak.
Manuhua Biak Air commander Col. Fajar Adriyanto told reporters that the arrival of the planes was part of a collaboration between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and its Russian counterpart that included choosing Biak as the exercise location.
“The planes fly directly from Russia for 12 hours, and this will be the first time they have flown near the equator,” said Fajar. “They usually fly in temperatures of minus 37 degrees, now they will fly in plus 37 degrees. So it will really be a 100% change.”
The Russian planes are not equipped with radar, ammunition, or cameras as the navigation exercises would only consist of checking the accuracy of long-distance flying over the seas, he said.
“The exercises have no other purpose. Their arrival will also promote Biak as a tourist destination, Fajar added”