Russian Tu-160s fly over Caribbean Sea coast

Two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers that arrived in Venezuela have carried out a training mission along the Caribbean Sea coast, the commander of the Russian crews, Deputy Commander of the Russian Long-Range Air Force Alexander Afinogentov, reported by telephone from Caracas.

The flight was normal. It lasted about six hours, he said in a live broadcast of the Vesti news channel.

The aircraft flew along Caribbean Sea countries. There were no excesses. The equipment worked well. Foreign fighters did not approach the Tu-160s, the commander said.

Afinogentov thanked Venezuela for the assistance in the organisation of the flight. A good aerodrome fit for strategic aircraft flights is provided for the Russian planes. The runway is over 3,000 metres long. The cover is good. All conditions are created for the missions to be carried out without problems, without delays.

Venezuelan pilots, the personnel, who are at the airbase, display "lively interest" in the Russian guests, he said.

They examine the aircraft and talk with the pilots, engineers and technical personnel. It is new for them. They never talked directly with Russian crews. There are very many questions about every day life and service. A contact is established with them, Afinogentov said. "I think all are satisfied. It is also interesting for us to talk with them, to know how they live, how they organise their combat training. It is a good, normal exchange of experience that will be useful for us in the future."

Wonderful conditions are created for the Russians. They live in separate rooms with air conditioners. The food and service are on the highest level, the commander of the Russian group said.

The two Tu-160 strategic bombers arrived in Venezuela on Wednesday to carry out training missions. President Hugo Chavez welcomed the arrival of the Russian crews and even expressed the wish to fly aboard the aircraft. But the mission on Saturday was carried out without him.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 13Sep08]

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