Friday, June 16, 2006

Venezuela To Buy Russian Jets

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela will purchase 24 new Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets this year, adding that it may purchase more. Chavez’ words come at the moment when Venezuelan government moves forward with plans to set up factories to produce Kalashnikov assault rifles under license. Chavez said Wednesday the SU-30 jets will replace a fleet of U.S.-made F-16s, which Venezuela has had trouble maintaining because the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has refused to sell Caracas parts. “First we are going to buy 24 Sukhoi S-30’s and we are going to leave open the possibility of a future acquisition” of Sukhoi S-35s,“ Chavez said, quoted by Associated Press.
Hugo Chavez
Speaking to hundreds of soldiers at a military base, Chavez said the first shipment of Russian-built jets would arrive in this oil-rich South American country by the end of the year. Wearing olive green military fatigues and a red paratrooper’s beret, Chavez personally handed out newly-acquired Kalashnikov rifles to soldiers after being presented with his own brand new AK-103 assault rifle. Venezuela ”is going to set up the first Kalashnikov factory in South America,“ said Chavez, whose ”revolutionary“ government is buying 100,000 Russian-made AK-103 assault rifles along with ammunition and accessories. As MosNews reported, the first 30,000 of the assault rifles arrived on June 3. Chavez used surging oil revenues to modernize Venezuela’s military, signing defense deals worth an estimated $2.7 billion with countries including Russia and Spain. Despite Washington’s objections, Venezuela is purchasing 15 Russian helicopters for $200 million, and officials say they hope to buy 18 more.
Sukhoi fighter jet