With the acquisition of hundreds of tanks, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles as well as submarines and missile networks, Venezuela is arming itself at a speed unprecedented in the history of the South American country.
Experts consulted by El Nuevo Herald have said that Hugo Chávez’s has created unrest in the region with purchases to expand its military that total more than $15 billion.
The analysts warned that the purchases are made in an improvised fashion, following a “dubious” process with no bidding or prior studies, which could lead the country to acquire a Russian technology difficult to adopt and rejected by segments of the National Armed Forces.
The funds Chávez is using for the purchase of these new weapons, the largest in the nation’s history, are in good part coming from loans.
“There have been important acquisitions in the country but never of such magnitude,” said Carlos Julio Peñaloza, former chief of the Unified Command of Venezuela’s Armed Forces.
And it could end up being a lot more than $15 billion.
Some analysts said that the purchases made so far add up to about $30 billion, a figure Chávez himself has said he wishes to spend to modernize the country’s armed forces.
A report by the Association for Citizen Control for the Security and Defense of the Nation, a Venezuelan NGO that follows this issue closely, says the country has received or is about to receive a long list of equipment and military installations supplied mostly by Russia, China and Spain.
The list includes 92 mid-size T-72B1V tanks, about 240 bulletproof infantry vehicles (BMP-3 and 8x8 BTR-80), nine submarines, nearly 50 vessels of different sizes, dozens of Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighting airplanes, an undetermined number of Chinese J-10 fighter airplanes, and close to a hundred Russian helicopters, a good part of which were designed for combat operations.
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