Post-Soviet Aircraft Graveyard Discovered on Abandoned Far East Russian Air Base

(Image: Maks Maydachenco, reproduced with permission)

During the Cold War CIA and U.S. Air Force pilots risked life and limb to spy on the Soviet Union. Today, we too can peer behind the former Iron Curtain, all from the comfort of our personal computers. Intriguingly, such virtual exploration has revealed abandoned military bases in the far reaches of Russia that – even today – house the rusting remnants of the feared Soviet bomber force.

(Image: Maks Maydachenco, reproduced with permission)

Littered with at least 18 gutted Tupolev Tu-22M Backfires of the 444th Heavy Bomber Regiment, Vozdvizhenka air base resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape. Entering this barren place, located near Ussuriysk in the Primorsky Krai region of Far East Russia, 60 miles north of Vladivostok and 40 miles from the Chinese border, is like taking a step back in time.

(Image: Google Earth via Digital Globe)

Google Earth reveals a chilly scene where numerous aircraft sit in their parking revetments, and dozens of hardened aircraft shelters lie semi-hidden beneath the snow. The 2005 satellite image shows at least 28 Backfire bombers, although this number has decreased in recent years, suggesting the planes are slowly being scrapped.  The base was likely still active when the aerial photo was taken.

(Image: Maks Maydachenco, reproduced with permission)

On the other hand, these atmospheric images, taken less than three months ago, reveal the remaining contingent of rusting hardware as it appears today. Although the Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire, developed at the height of the Cold War, remains in service with the Russian air force, English Russia reports that Vozdvizhenka was operational until 2007, after which some aircraft left for Siberia and the rest were simply abandoned.

(Image: Maks Maydachenco, reproduced with permission)

Urban explorers faced no obstacles when infiltrating Vozdvizhenka air base, as iron-clad security and military secrecy had long since melted into history. The images reveal an overgrown, neglected facility that has been derelict for years. Considering the isolated nature of its location and apparent lack of government interest, this ghostly Russian bomber fleet may continue haunting the airfield for years to come.

 
 


 
 
 

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