Russian bombers about to become regular visitors of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Not a first though.
After visiting the Arctic and Europe, Russian bombers prepare to perform long-range training sorties over the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu Moscow is in the “need to ensure a military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans, the waters of the Caribbean basin and the Gulf of Mexico.”
One year ago, two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers completed a 10,000 miles, 13-hour long-range training flight (supported by two Tu- 95 Bear strategic bombers that provided radio communications relay in remote areas along the route) and landed in Venezuela, at the airport in Maiquetía Caracas, for the first time since 2008.
On their way home the Tu-160s visited Nicaragua but the flight over Central America brought the two Russian bombers to fly inside the Colombian airspace without the required diplomatic clearance.
For this reason they were intercepted by two Colombian Air Force Kfir fighter planes approximately 80 miles from Barranquilla.
Eventually, the Blackjacks returned to the Engels base on Nov. 5 where they landed about 15 hours later after; the return trip included aerial refueling by Il-78 tankers over the Norwegian Sea…
Earlier this year, Russia discussed with its regional partners the possibility to base its assets in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
NATO has recently reported “unusual” spike in Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace in northern Europe.
The increased activity of Russian bombers and spyplanes close to national airspaces caused alert scrambles in the Baltic Sea area and in the Portuguese FIR (Flight Information Region). In one case, an Il-20 almost collided with a civil plane off Sweden.
Image credit: Alan Wilson