Tag Archives: Venezuela

Two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers deploy in Venezuela after a 13-hour flight across the Pacific

Two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers that had left Russia on Oct. 28, have completed a 10,000 miles, 13-hour long range training flight and landed in Venezuela , according to the Russian Defense Ministry .

Talking to RIA Novosti news agency, a Ministry spokesperson said that the two supersonic bombers flew over Eastern Pacific Ocean along the southwest coast of North America, over the Caribbean Sea and landed at the airport in Maiquetía Caracas.

Interestingly, the long-range mission was supported by two Tu- 95 Bear strategic bombers that provided radio communications relay in remote areas along the route.

“All flights of Russian Air Force planes are carried out in strict accordance with international standards for the use of airspace,” the Russian spokesperson said.

This was not the first time two Tu-160s visit Venezuela: a similar deployment took place in Sept. 2008.

Top image: a Tu-160 at MAKS 2007 (Wiki)

H/T to Nicholas Martin for sending the link to the video

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Did Iran really get one or more F-16 fighter jets from Venezuela?

During the late ’70s Iran ordered 160 F-16As. However, with the fall of the Shah in 1979, the order was cancelled and those aircraft were never delivered, although some tooling and maintenance equipment reportedly arrived in country in readiness for deliveries.

Still, there are some (mainly Iranians who reportedly saw them) who argue two airframes did make their way to Iran. According to what has been written on some aviation forums across the world, the two F-16s that were delivered before the procurement was cancelled, were based at Mehrabad Air Base, near Tehran.

According to such accounts, one “Fighting Falcon” is still operational whereas the other was disassembled for reverse engineering and then sent to Pakistan. The jet sent to Pakistan was itself looked at by the Pakistani military with the idea of reverse engineering it, although Pakistan had bought the F-16 itself.

Some say that in return for the airframe Pakistan provided Iran with nuclear technology, although this is just one of the many speculations that surround the story.

Anyway, the Spanish newspaper ABC has recently reported that at least one F-16 of the 23 purchased by Venezuela in 1983, was transferred to Iran by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Military cooperation between Chavez and Ahmadinejad was recently proved by the use of some Iranian Mohajer 2 drones, operating in Venezuela under the name of Sant Arpia.

According to the information gathered by ABC, the F-16s for Tehran have been disassembled and packed into several sealed and unmarked wooden crates which were then loaded onto a Venezuelan Boeing 707.

The 707 took off from El Liberator Air Base and stopped in Brazil, Algeria before landing in Tehran.

The airframe would have been brought back to flying condition in Iran to test it against the local air defense systems in anticipation of an Israeli or U.S. attack on the Iranian nuke program.

After a visit (to Tehran) in 2009 by the director of Venezuelan military, minutes that were signed after a high level meeting are thought to have implied that Venezuela promised to speed up further transfers of further jets, therefore there could be more than three airframes in Iran.

A quick google search for the above shows that various forums are awash with this after ABC and later Haaretz as well as several other media outlets ran reports back in June that seem to back this up.

It remains to be seen if proof is forthcoming.

Still, even if Venezuela really gave Tehran one of its jets, the airframe was already rather dated in 2006, and it would be of very little use to calibrate anti-aircraft radar systems against the most modern threats: for instance the Israeli Air Force, among the others, uses F-16I Sufa (Block 52) jets that are much different in terms of avionics and equipment from Block 15 examples.

Hence, not only is there no evidence any F-16 is currently in Iran, nor it would be of any real interest for the Iranian military.

Noteworthy, among the various images allegedly showing F-16 in Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force color scheme that can be found online, the one below is one of the most interesting. It seems to show Iranian (?) officers inspecting a (dual seater) F-16 in a hangar. The fact that the photo is in the usual FARS News agency framing makes it a bit more realistic.

However, the aircraft is in the Venezuelan Air Force color scheme and the image seems to have been taken inside one of the soft hangars at El Libertador airbase as shown in this photo on the F16.net website.

Therefore, either the image is a fake (like many others you can find on the Internet, some of those showing scale models) or it was taken by the FARS photographer Vahid Reza Alaei during a visit in Venezuela of an Iranian delegation.

Written with David Cenciotti.

Image credit: FARS News Agency (or fake?)

Salva

Video exposes Venezuela's made-in-Iran drone. Chavez: "we are making drones, assembling rifles".

During his speech on Jun. 13, at the Ministry of Defense, President Hugo Chavez reiterated Venezuela’s sovereign decision to consolidate its independence from foreign threats through initiatives such as the military buildup and development in the defense field.

During the event, he presented some Iranian Mohajer 2 drones, operating in Venezuela under the name of Sant Arpia.

The following video is one of the few available on the Internet showing the drone being built by the Cavim (Compañía Anónima Venezolana de Industrias Militares at the Maracay factory.

Interestingly, on the same site, Cavim has built an AK-103 rifles and ammunition factory that, with the Russian support, will have the capacity to produce annually 25,000 rifles and 60 million cartridges. So far, it has produced 3,000 units.

Iranian Mohajer-2 drone appears in Venezuela. Chavez's building his own drone fleet with the help of Tehran.

Under the name of Sant Arpia, the Mohajer 2, a quite famous Made-in-Iran drone, is currently flying in Venezuela.

Reportedly operating from the Cavim (CA Venezolana de Industria Militares) Maracay factory, where a new UAV facility has been unveiled by recent satellite imagery, the Mohajer 2 is a light unarmed drone that can be used for surveillance missions within a range of 50 km from the departure airfield at a speed of 200 km/h. Its ceiling is 11,000 feet of altitude and endurance is reported to be around 90 minutes.

Being equipped with skids, the Mohajer 2 is recovered using a recovery chute.

Although the dozen are believed to have been slightly modified by Caracas, the Mohajer 2 is an Iranian UAV model and, as such, it could not be purchased by Chavez, because of the embargo on the ayatollah regime.

Moreover, as highlighted by the special correspondent in Washington for the Spanish ABC.es Emili J. Blasco, the technology transfer agreement worth 28 million USD would seem to excede the price of a dozen drones (three of those crashed) that were purchased by Venezuela.

Indeed, along with a drone factory that has not come into operation, some more facilities have been built at Cavim. What Iranian personnel is doing inside the other facitilies remains a mystery. Maybe the mystery that U.S. drones aim to investigate.

The following image, published on several forums around the world (attribution hence impossible to determine), shows a Venezuelan Sant Arpia: noteworthy the tail section wears registration Arpia-002 while front section is marked “Arpia-003”. Does this mean the drone is made up of parts from different examples?

Image credit: Internet, ABC.es (?)

Along with the Sant Arpia, the Fuerza Aérea Venezolana (FAV) operates the ANT-1X, a smaller drone used for ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) purposes.

Both drones equip the Grupo Aéreo de Inteligencia, Vigilancia y Reconocimiento Electrónico Nº 8, based at El Libertador, Maracay-Palo Negro airbase.