Two Tu-160 bombers on cross-Atlantic flight for deployment to Venezuela
The two long-range bombers came Engels Air Base and flew out to the Barents Sea over the Kola Peninsula on Monday. Flying in international air space the pair of Tu-160 were accompanied by an Il-62 passenger plane and An-124 heavy-cargo plane. West of North Cape, the group of planes turned south and flew over the Norwegian Sea west of Norway.
Outside Norway, a pair of Norwegian F-16 fighter jets scrambled from Bodø Air Station monitored the group of Russian military aircraft. From west of Great Britain, RAF Typhoon jets followed further out to the Atlantic Ocean.
After a 10,000 kilometers flight, the Russian bombers landed at Maiquetia airport near Caracas in Venezuela, Russia’s Defense Ministry reports. Tu-160 can carry cruise missiles with conventional or nuclear warheads. The Defense Ministry says nothing about possible weapons on board the aircraft.
This is the third time in post-Soviet times, strategic bombers land in Venezuela. Similar trans-Atlantic flights took place in 2003 and 2008.The Russian Defense Ministry says nothing about for how long the Tu-160s will stay.
After the Russian bombers landed in Venezuela, US Secretary of State posted a strong-wording tweet late Monday claiming the Russian and Venezuelan governments of “squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”
#Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to #Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer. pic.twitter.com/bCBGbGtaHT— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 11, 2018