The Russian TU-160 jet bombers conducting military exercises with Venezuela in the Caribbean may have used Guyana’s airspace.
A source did confirm that a flight plan was submitted to Guyana and that this was relayed to the airport officials.
However, when asked to comment on the issue, on Wednesday, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that he was unaware of any request.
According to the plan submitted, the planes would have traversed Guyana and Suriname’s airspace heading towards French Guyana and then return to Venezuela, again traversing the local airspace.
According to the airport official, it was unclear whether the plan submitted was ever realised and even if it did materialize, the only way Guyana would have known was if the pilots were to notify the relevant officials while in transit, or if they had bombed Guyana.
According to a technical officer attached to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the radar system employed at the nation’s only international airport is not sophisticated enough to detect whether Guyana’s airspace was used.
This newspaper understands that it is international practice to notify a control tower of one’s presence in territorial airspace so that the tower will be able to effectively manage its air traffic, whether it is outbound or inbound.
A former U.S. fighter jet pilot told Kaieteur News that at least informing a country of your presence was standard so that the tower could determine which path would be best suitable to avoid possible air collisions.
When contacted for a comment yesterday as to whether Guyana’s airspace was used at any time, Venezuelan military attaché General Brigadier Roberto De Luca, through an interpreter, said that he was unable to declare a position at that time.
Two Russian Tupolev-160 strategic bombers, known in the military community as Black Jacks, flew for about six hours over neutral waters in the Caribbean Sea on Monday, taking off from a base in Venezuela, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.
The two bombers took off from the El Libertador air base and were supposed to conduct experiments on using aviation technology in tropical climates, air force spokesman Vladimir Drik said in remarks posted on the Web Site of state broadcaster Vesti-24. The jet bombers arrived in Venezuela on September 10, after being followed on their journey by aircraft from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The presence of the Russian bombers in the region is unprecedented but it has brought no comment from any regional leader.
When approached for a comment, yesterday, Public Affairs Officer in the United States Embassy, Rolf Olson, said that his country is looking for ways to enhance mutual cooperation in the Americas rather than engaging in confrontational gestures.
“We are currently very busy in the Caribbean with a number of important initiatives – providing urgently-needed disaster relief assistance to devastated nations, protecting fisheries and ecological resources, interdicting the flow of illegal narcotics, and keeping sea lanes open,” he said.
He said that much remains to be done, and Russia and other countries could contribute positively to these efforts. The two jet bombers returned to Russia yesterday.
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