Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko’s announcement in Moscow provided sketchy details of the coming Russian deployment at a Venezuela airport and the joint naval war games with Hugo Chavez’s navy in the Caribbean. Caracas announced that four Russian ships with almost 1,000 sailors aboard would join its navy for maneuvers on November 10-14.
DEBKAfile’s military sources itemize its composition:
The nuclear-capable maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare turboprop TU-142 (NATO coded Bear F, or Bear J), which can fly 6,500 km, i.e. from Venezuela to the US coast will be temporarily based at a Venezuelan airport.
This move will further strain US-Russian relations.
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Nesterenko played down the presence of the TU-142 in his statement that a smallish Russian flotilla would be holding naval training exercises off Venezuela in November. Our sources inferred that the warplanes would land in October, arriving before the flotilla, which will be bigger and more formidable than the Russian and Venezuelan spokesmen indicated.
According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, it will consist of six to eight vessels, led by the Kirov Class (Type 1144.2) Peter the Great nuclear-powered heavy missile cruiser, one of the largest warships in the world, which is designed to guard the rest of the group against submarine and air attack.
It is armed with the Granit (NATO designated SS-N-19 Shipwreck) long range, anti-ship missile system, consisting of 20 missiles. If the lead missile is intercepted, one of the others moves into the lead role.
Peter the Great is also equipped with 40 S-300F air defense missiles.
Other ships in the Russian flotilla are the Admiral Chabanenko , the Russian navy’s most advanced guided missile anti-submarine battleship, and the guided nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy . They will be escorted by five smaller warships and a fuel vessel.