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Whilst Venezuelan Foreign Ministry rules out arms race...

By Ernesto Ecarri | El Universal

22.02.05 | ...The Chavez regime spends over USD 2 billion in military equipment! The Venezuelan government plans to buy military equipment for USD 2 billion. The exact amount is still unknown, but negotiations are ongoing. The Venezuelan state will pay USD 400 million for 100,000, model AK-103 and AK-104 Russian rifles, according to the Spanish firm Análisis e inteligencia.com.

A similar amount will involve the purchase of 33 choppers. During a visit to Venezuela last November 2004, representatives of Russian exporter Rosoboronexport explained that in 2005, a total of 20 choppers, model MI17B5 and 13, model MI35M (10 assault aircrafts and 3 logistic planes) would be delivered.

However, the head of the National Assembly Defense Commission, pro-government deputy Eddy Ríos (MVR), stated that in a first stage, 10 helicopters for USD 120 million would be received. "A total of 6 will arrive within the first 9 months, and the remaining 4 during the last three months of this year."

Brazilian Tucanos

The Venezuelan government not only is discussing with Russia the purchase of military equipment. The Sao Paolo daily O Estado reported one week ago that Venezuela plans to buy new "Super Tucanos" from the Brazilian aeronautics company Embraer, the fourth major builder of civil and military aircraft in the world.

According to the Brazilian newspaper, the negotiation is estimated at USD 110-180 million.

Another negotiation with Embraer included a dozen AMX-T planes, a fighter developed by Brazilians along with the Italian Alenia, amounting to USD 260 million. The agreement was signed in 2002, but delivery was planned for 2005. However, the Venezuelan air force later suspended the transaction without further notice.

Corvettes and aircraft

Also, 4 Spanish corvettes and 6 cargo transport planes, model C-295, would be purchased by Venezuela, according to Madrid newspaper El País.

Such negotiation was completed during the "flash" visit of Spanish Defense Minister José Bono, in January 2005. The operation amounts to USD 1.2 billion, including USD 780-1,040 million for the ships and USD 195 million for the transport aircrafts, as reported by the newspaper



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