Venezuela Got a Loan for $10 Billion from Russia to Pay for Fighter Jets (It Can’t Pay It Back)

Venezuela Got a Loan for $10 Billion from Russia to Pay for Fighter Jets (It Can’t Pay It Back)

Sebastien Roblin


They’ll never pay it back.

Venezuela’s economic death spiral has left it unable to pay for maintenance and training with these expensive military systems. Despite restructuring the loans into a ten-year repayment plan by 2017, it has been defaulting on those payments too.

On the morning of July 19, a U.S. Navy turboprop-engine spy plane was trolling over the Caribbean waters just north of Venezuela when it attracted unwelcome attention.

Derived from an old airliner, the EP-3E Aries II was designed to cruise over international airspace while its crew of over twenty personnel snooped on the communication signals and electromagnetic signatures of potential adversaries.

Abruptly at half-past eleven, a Russian-built Su-30MK2 “Flanker” twin-engine multi-role fighter swooped down upon the ponderous surveillance plane, blaring warnings that it had failed to report its flight plan with the Maquieta Flight Information Region.

You can see clips recorded by the U.S. crews of the intercept here. U.S. Southern Command groused the interceptor had “aggressively shadowed” the EP-3. 

Venezuela released its own video of the intercept. According to an accompanying media report, the EP-3 was detected on radar at 9:52 AM and the interceptor dispatched at 10:33. However, the EP-3’s flight path as visualized in the Venezuelan media report doesn’t appear to show an airspace violation.

The Su-30 is a fast, maneuverable and heavy-lifting attack jet comparable to the America F-15E Strike Eagle—and arguably the most capable fighter currently in service in South America. The MK2 model features improved sensors to enhance its anti-ship capabilities.

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