Caracas, September 21, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the purchase of 12 Russian fighter jets yesterday following the crash of a Venezuelan Sukhoi-30 on Thursday evening.
In an official ceremony held at El Libertador Air Force Base in Aragua on Sunday, the Head of State paid his homage to the two pilots who died in the crash, which occurred at 9:07 pm on Thursday in the southwestern border state of Apure. The pilots of the Sukhoi-30 were dispatched following the incursion of an unidentified aircraft into Venezuelan airspace in the Cajón de Arauca region, as detected by the nation’s Integral Airspace Defense System.
“We are going to strengthen the Bolivarian Air Force, in order to defend Venezuela’s airspace, in order to combat drug-trafficking,” Maduro declared, adding that he plans to speak with Russian President Vladmir Putin concerning the replacement of the downed aircraft as well as the purchase of 12 new Sukhoi-30s.
The socialist leader recalled that late president Hugo Chávez negotiated the country’s first purchase of Russian Sukhoi aircraft in response to then US president George Bush’s refusal to sell Venezuela replacement parts for its F-16s, used principally in anti-drug operations.
“The United States has denied us replacement parts for the F-16s that we use to fight drug-trafficking. Due to this, we are constructing our own responses. If we didn’t have the Sukhois, we would be an air paradise for Colombian drug-trafficking,” he affirmed.
Maduro also noted that the black box aboard the downed aircraft had been recovered and would be subject to “professional investigation” in the coming days.
The two pilots, Maj. Ronald Ramírez Sánchez and Maj. Jackson García Betancourt, were posthumously awarded the Order of the Liberators Metal, First Class for their services to the nation. Monuments in the Guarico Airbase and the Bolivarian Air Force School in Aragua will be erected in their honor.