WASHINGTON — A large Soviet naval force appears to be heading back to port after conducting "the most extensive and realistic exercise" ever mounted by the Soviets in the Pacific Ocean, U.S. Navy sources said Wednesday.
The sources, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not identified, said a Soviet task group led by the carrier Novorossiysk passed through the La Perouse Strait north of Japan on Tuesday, apparently on its way back to the port of Vladivostok.
"This exercise was the most extensive and realistic we've ever seen the Soviets perform in the Pacific," said one high-ranking officer. "They were concentrating on training to oppose a U.S. aircraft carrier battle force.
"On Sunday, there were simulated air strikes by up to 20 long-range Backfire bombers," the source continued.