RT | Published: December 10,h 2018
Tu-160 strategic bomber © Sputnik / Maxim Tumanov
Two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers, an An-124 transport and an Il-62 plane have carried out a 10,000-kilometer flight from Russia to Venezuela, being shadowed by Norwegian F16s along the way, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The flight of the Russian air group was conducted over the Atlantic Ocean, the Barents Sea, the Sea of Norway and the Caribbean Sea. “During some parts of the route, the Tu-160 bombers were escorted by the F16s of the Norwegian Air Force,” the ministry said.
Moscow pointed out that the impressive journey was performed “in strict accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace.”
The planes landed at the Simon Bolivar International Airport outside Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, on Monday. Venezuelan Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, was among the officials greeting the Russian aviators at the landing field.
Lopez also said that the Tu-160s will perform joint flights with Venezuela’s Air Force, without elaborating on the program, or the drills, any further. Pentagon sources told US media that the Russian exercise will also include refueling in the air.
“Nobody in the world” should be afraid of the presence of Russian bombers in Venezuela because Caracas and Moscow “are builders of peace, not war,” the minister said as cited by local El Universal paper.
Lopez also said that a delegation from Moscow is expected to arrive in the country to help the Venezuelan military to optimize the use of Russian military equipment.
The Russian planes traveled to Venezuela less than a week after the country’s President Nicolas Maduro visited Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin.
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It’s not the first time the Tu-160s (NATO reporting name ‘Blackjack’) are seen in Venezuela as the strategic bombers already visited it in 2008 and 2013.
Last week, Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, that such flights will continue and that Russian Navy vessels will also dock at Venezuelan ports.