MOSCOW, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Russia's Northern Fleet will test a modernized anti-submarine aircraft, the Il-38N, which could be used in the Arctic region, a military official said Sunday.
"The plane has been enhanced with new generation detachable hydroacoustic and magnetic beacons that surpass their Western counterparts in a range of ways," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the fleet's spokesman, Vadim Serga, as saying.
The first crew had begun the practical flight training after concluding the theoretical part of the program, Novosti said.
He added that the plane, equipped with the Novella sensor system that can detect targets from up to 320 km away, can act as a maritime patrol aircraft capable of performing electronic reconnaissance.
On Friday, Serga said the Northern Fleet would expand its air patrol ranges in the Arctic region in 2014 and use the network of a revamped Soviet-era airfield, the Temp airfield, on the New Siberian Islands.
In December, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to take every step necessary to protect Russia's security and national interests in the Arctic region.
Russia, Canada, Denmark, the United States and Norway have been collecting scientific evidence for more than a decade in an effort to demand expansion of their exclusive economic zone for additional 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) in the northern seas.
According to the UN Convention, each country should demonstrate that the seabed is a natural extension of its continental shelf.