Chavez offer base for Russian strategic bombersMarch 15th, 2009 - 12:32 am ICT by IANS
Moscow, March 14 (RIA Novosti) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered Russia the use of an island of his country for temporary hosting of Russian long-range aviation, an air force official said Saturday.
“Chavez proposed to us a whole island with an airfield that we can use for temporary basing of strategic bombers,” said Major General Anatoly Zhikharev, the chief of Russia’s long-range aviation staff.
“If there is the relevant political decision, the island … could be used by the Russian Air Force,” Zhikharev told journalists.
He said the temporary basing opportunity could be used for air patrol missions.
In September 2008, two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack multi-mission strategic bombers arrived in Venezuela after a 13-hour flight over the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. There were no nuclear weapons on board the aircraft. After that, they carried out a patrol mission over the Caribbean.
The Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation.