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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has proposed to Russia using a Venezuelan island for temporary hosting of Russian long-range aviation, a top-ranking Russian Air Force official said Saturday.
“There is such a proposal on the part of the Venezuelan president. Chavez proposed to us a whole island with an airfield that we can use for temporary basing of strategic bombers,” said Maj.-Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, the chief of the 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.
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