According to information provided through its official account on X, the Bolivarian Military Aviation of Venezuela carried out the training and operational exercise “Matasiete I-24,” which involved the deployment of F-16 fighters from the Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi Advanced Tactical Air Base, Porlamar, Nueva Esparta State. The exercise included simulated air-to-air combat maneuvers, including missile launches.

Although no further details were provided, the video published by the Bolivarian Military Aviation allowed the observation of three F-16A/B aircraft (two single-seaters and one two-seater) belonging to the 16th Air Combat Group, based at El Libertador Air Base. The aircraft were armed with AIM-9L Sidewinder and Rafael Python 4 missiles, some of which were visibly active, indicated by their visible dual yellow stripe. Additionally, ground support personnel carrying bombs were observed, which may have been used by the F-16s.

It’s worth noting that in January of this year, the Bolivarian Military Aviation deployed its F-16s amid the territorial dispute with Guyana over the sovereignty of the Esequibo. On that occasion, the United Kingdom had deployed the patrol vessel HMS Trent in waters near Guyana, prompting the Venezuelan government to conduct the joint military exercise “General Domingo Sifontes.”

Despite existing embargoes by the United States on Venezuela, the Bolivarian Military Aviation continues to operate a limited number of units, 41 years after their incorporation. Alongside Chile, they are the only countries in South America currently operating this model. It’s noteworthy that the F-16s of the Bolivarian Military Aviation did not receive new upgrades after their failed Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) initiated almost two decades ago, which only concluded with a structural review of the airframe and modifications to operate Rafael Phytoon air-to-air missiles and the Rafael Lighting I targeting pod.

*Image Credits: Bolivarian Military Aviation – FAV_Club via X

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