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​Engineers tested a prototype engine for Russia's next generation Tupolev PAK DA strategic bomber last week, as Russia's defense ministry vows to intensified bomber flights near US airspace. "This is connected to the situation in Ukraine, with the emerging anti-Russia inclinations on the part of NATO and the increasing foreign military presence in the immediate vicinity of our borders," said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 12. "In the current situation, we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico," he added. Russian TU-95 and TU-160 strategic bombers have not routinely probed US air defenses since the Cold War, but NATO reported intercepting three times the normal number of Russian military flights in and around Europe this year. Tupolev is currently building facilities to the PAK DA and subcontractors are already working on avionics and weapons for the new bomber, which is slated to fly by 2021, ITAR-TASS reported.