Filmed on Nov. 27, 1992 during the Venezuelan military coup, the following video shows Fuerza Aérea Venezolana (FAV, Venezuelan Air Force) Lieutenant Beltran Vielma shooting down an OV-10 Bronco by means of his F-16’s M61A1 Vulcan 20 mike-mike cannon. The Bronco went down hard and fast as flames and smoke erupted out of the rear-end of the OV-10.
On Feb. 4, 1992 an attempted coup d’etat was launched against Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. The coup was led by Army and Air Force personnel, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez, but the uprising was immediately contained and Chavez imprisoned.
As told by Santiago Rivas and Juan Carlos Cicalesi in their book Latin American Mirages – Mirage III / 5 / F.1 / 2000 in Service with South American Air Arms, in November, a new uprising was planned, headed by the FAV. Air Force General Francisco Visconti Osorio prepared the actions that were to start at Base Area El Libertador, where they were available two Mirage 50EVs, 3 North American Rockwell OV-10E and six OV-10A Broncos, the F-16s, 5 C-130Hs, 6 Aeritalia G222s, 2 KC-137s, 8 Aérospatiale AS.330 Super Pumas and 12 Bell UH-1Hs. The aircraft were deployed under the cover of Air Force Day, which is celebrated in December.
As the clip below shows, the new coup attempt took place at 03.30 on Nov. 27, with the occupation of Base Aérea El Libertador, the Air Force Academy (equipped with North American T-2 Buckeyes and Tucanos) and other military units and radio stations.
During the occupation of the base, two F-16 pilots, Captain Labarca and Lieutenant Vielma, both loyal to the government, managed to escape in two aircraft that were standing on alert, and flew to Base Aerea Teniente Vicente Landaeta Gil at Barquisimeto. Here they joined the CF-5As of Grupo No. 12 and a number of T-2s.
The first actions were carried out by two rebel helicopters, one of which was shot down. Then, at 06.15 the two Mirage 50EVs attacked Venezuelan Army units at Fuerte Tiuna, to the west of Caracas. The Mirages inflicted some casualties among loyalist troops who were meeting to suppress the rebellion.
The Mirages returned to their base and took off again some minutes later, bombing the air base at Barquisimeto after 07.00. The attack was flown together with Broncos, and the raiders succeeded in destroying three CF-5As and damaging another five, together with a civil McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airliner damaged.
As they were returning to their base, the Mirages were intercepted by two loyalist F-16s, returning from a combat air patrol over Caracas. The Mirages selected afterburners and made their escape, but the Broncos were unable to evade the F-16s, and two were shot down.
Another air strike took place over Caracas at 13.00. In this action, the Francisco de Miranda air base at La Carlota was bombed, as was the presidential palace. During the attack, the F-16s appeared again and damaged one Tucano. Anti-aircraft artillery damaged a Bronco, which crashed shortly before landing at its base. At La Carlota, a Roland SAM shot down another Bronco. One F-16 began to pursue one of the two Mirages, but the pilot made his escape at supersonic speed, landing at Aruba, while the other Mirage escaped to Curacao.
Despite the rebels’ efforts, the loyalist F-16s gained the control of Venezuelan air-space. The rebels were hampered by the fact that mostly they were unable to fly any of the F-16s at El Libertador, and that their two Mirages were out of the battle. Meanwhile, the rebels were also struggling on the ground, and by the afternoon it was clear that the coup attempt was failing. At 15.00 the F-16s bombed El Libertador as loyalist troops approached the base. Minutes later, C-130H FAV 2716 took off with the rebels onboard and headed to Peru, putting an end to the rebellion.
Latin American Mirages – Mirage III / 5 / F.1 / 2000 in Service with South American Air Arms is published by Harpia Publishing and is available to order here.
Photo credit: Fuerza Aérea Venezolana
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