[Ed. – It’s been a while. Maybe they’ll do this more often; maybe not. We can escalate it faster and more consistently than Russia can. This can be read as a reaction to the INF Treaty suspension, BTW. The Blackjacks can range the U.S. with cruise missiles from well south of Cuba.]
At least two Blackjacks will fly from a strategic forces air base in Russia to Venezuela as part of a series of training exercises that will include long-range refueling, said officials familiar with Russian plans for the flight.
The bomber foray to South America will be Russia’s seventh training flight for Blackjack bombers in the past three months.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon official and specialist on the Russian military, said Tu-160 flights are unusual and increasing.
“There were six announced Tu-160 flights of the ‘provocative’ type during the last three months, which is a lot,” Schneider said.
The most recent incident took place near Norway in late October when Tu-160s were shadowed by British and Norwegian jet fighters over the Barents Sea.