- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

US Envoy Calls Russian Tu-160 Strategic Bombers in Venezuela 'Museum Pieces'

© Sputnik / Vladimir Sergeev / Go to the mediabankThe Tu-160 strategic bomber
The Tu-160  strategic bomber - Sputnik International
Two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers arrived in Venezuela on 10 December to conduct interoperability drills with the Venezuelan Air Force. The Venezuelan defence minister explained that the joint flights with the Russian aircraft are aimed at training Venezuela to protect itself against aggression.

US Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker said in an interview with RCN Radio the Russian Tu-160 (NATO reporting name Blackjack) strategic bombers that recently arrived in Venezuela are "not provocations" since "such old planes […] are actually museum pieces". Whitaker also alleged that Moscow was sending some kind of message by redeploying the bombers to Venezuela, but didn't specify what it was.

A Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic heavy strategic bomber at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2017 in Zhukovsky - Sputnik International
Russian Tu-160 Strategic Bombers Take to the Skies Over the Caribbean (VIDEO)

The arrival of the Russian strategic bombers in Venezuela sparked criticism from the US and neighbouring Colombia, but the Russian Foreign Ministry has assured that the bombers were not carrying nuclear weapons on board.

The Tupolev Tu-160, known in Russia as the White Swan due to its huge white wings with a 55m span, is a supersonic strategic bomber developed in the early 1980s and which was commissioned in 1987. The jet is capable of reaching a speed of Mach 2 and flying up to 12,300km without refuelling. Tu-160 can also carry up to 40,000kg of ordnance, such as 6 Raduga cruise missiles or 12 Kh-15 (NATO reporting name AS-16 Kickback) short-range nuclear missiles.

READ MORE: Maduro Says Visits by Foreign Military Aircraft to Continue Amid Tu-160 Arrival

The Tu-160 received a massive upgrade in 2005 (afterwards referred to as the Tu-160M2), receiving not only new engines, avionics, and electronic systems, but also a new coating based on stealth technology. 

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала