Russia Tu-160 to fly to Caracas to prepare for patrolling flight

Russia’s strategic missile bombers Tu-160 will on Wednesday re-deploy from the air base Libertador to the airfield of Caracas, the head of the information and public relations department of the Russian Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Drik told Itar-Tass.

Drik specified that two strategic bombers will fly from Libertador, where they have stayed since September 10, to Caracas to prepare for a patrolling flight in remote geographic areas.

He said “the flight will be made in accordance with a decision of the supreme commander-in-chief, and the route will go over neutral waters of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans”.

“The planes will take off from the airfield in Caracas on September 18 and will spend about 15 hours in mid-air. The landing at their base in Engels is scheduled for September 19,” the lieutenant colonel said.

On Tuesday, the crews of Tu-160 made two flights over the Caribbean, drilling exploratory tasks connected with the peculiarities of the piloting of aircraft in the tropical climate, and met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “Pilots of long-rage aviation regularly make patrolling flights over neutral waters of the Arctic, Atlantic and Black seas, the Pacific Ocean both from their base and operational aerodromes,” Drik said.

“All flights of the Russian Air Force planes are made in strict accordance with international rules of the use of air space over neutral waters, without the violation of other countries’ borders,” he stressed.

The two aircraft Tu-260 took off from the Engels air garrison, Saratov Region, on September 10, for air patrolling in remote regions of the world and landed at the Libertador airbase in Venezuela on the same day. The flight was made without armament. There are no nuclear arms on board either. The duration of the flight was about 13 hours.

On September 13 and 15, the Russian military airpilots made training flights over the Caribbean Sea area.

Russian military analysts said it was the first time Russian strategic bombers have landed in the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said earlier that “Russia has no military bases in Latin America.” “The landing of the planes was made on a Venezuelan airbase in accordance with an earlier reached agreement on this,” Nesterenko added.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 17Sep08]

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