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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Buying US made arms endangers national security of a buyer

Among the world’s leading manufacturers of arms United States unreservedly remains most unreliable. Being the world’s most powerful economy USA can afford betraying old customers pursuing current political preferences of its administration. The most vivid example of the past couple of years is Venezuela. Today this nation has to pay billions for having chosen a wrong supplier of arms.

With obsolete US made arms and no hope of getting spares / maintenance from the country-supplier Venezuela reasonably fears its aggressive northern neighbour, who does not even hide the desire to assassin foreign leaders and interfere into the internal affairs of different countries because of the purely economic reasons. In these conditions the only reasonable solution is Russian weapons. While European suppliers remain under the US pressure and cannot guarantee stable cooperation in the military sphere, Russia proved that it fulfils its obligations despite any pressure from the US. Tor missiles for Iran is just one of the few most well-known examples.

Venezuela already bought licensed production of Kalashnikov machine guns and a series of the world’s best serially made multi-role fighters Su-30. Already delivered: 10 out of 24 Su-30 fighters, 18 out of 53 helicopters of different models. The next landmark contract is buying diesel submarines. This is nearly certain, as even the officials confirm such negotiations. In particular the head of Rosobornexport Sergey Chemezov said that the two nations are preparing the contracts.

According to some rumours the first contract on five Varshavyanka (project 636) class subs will be initialled before the end of the year. Three submarines will be built in St.Petersburg, two - in the Far East. Most likely by Admiralty Shipyards and Amur Shipyard. Russian officials do not name the manufacturers, saying just that the plants “already started preparation of the production capacities for laying down the submarines".

Project 636 sub belongs to the third generation of submarines designed by CKB MT Rubin (St.Petersburg), however, its latest upgrades bring it very close to the latest 4th generation subs. By the way, Venezuela also considered buying 4th generation Amur-1650 and may come back to this decision. The major advantage of 636 project, according to the experts, is that it is very flexible for modernization. In particular, the subs can carry newest supersonic cruise missiles of Club or BrahMos family with submarine launch. This is a priority direction of modernization ensuring the fighting efficiency surpassing foreign analogies.

According to the unofficial sources later Venezuela will buy four more subs. These additional subs may be Amurs. The total value of the submarine deal may range between one and three billion dollars. Russia will also build the base and repair facilities, supply arms and materials, train crews. The development program of the Venezuelan Navy assumes buying about 100 surface ships. It is not excluded that Russia will deliver also this class of ships.

During his recent visit to Russia the President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez demonstrated sincere interest to the newest Russian attack helicopter Mi-28N "Night hunter". This was also confirmed by the General Director of Rosoboronexport Sergey Chemezov. President Chavez even asked why he was not shown it earlier. Russian officials explained that this helicopter had been just commissioned with the Russian Armed Forces and only now it can be offered for export. “This is very interesting helicopter, and we are ready to hold negotiations”, said Sergey Chemezov. It goes without saying that the attack helicopter will be also extremely interesting for Venezuelan Armed Forces.

Recently Russia and Venezuela signed the contract on constructing technical center for servicing helicopters of any modifications. The President of Venezuela already invited the head of Rosoboronexport and the General Director of Rostvertol Boris Slyusar to visit Venezuela to lay down symbolic stone in the foundation of the center. First Deputy General Director Vladimir Pahomov publicly said that Venezuelan government and Russian manufacturers agreed to finance it. This project starts from scratch. The center becomes the only one in Latin America which will be able to serve three types of helicopters: Mi-35, Mi-17 and Mi-26. As of today there are no such universal service centers in the world. The costs of its creating can make up to 400 million dollars. Earlier a center on repairing Mi-17 was created in Mexico, but the one in Venezuela will be the first universal.

Within the frameworks of this project one of the founders of the service center, Russia’s leading designer and manufacturer of helicopter engines JSC Klimov, will set up engine repair infrastructure, including for the newest VK-2500 as well as for helicopter reducers. VK-2500 was specially designed with improved characteristics suitable for tropical climate and high mountains. According to Klimov's General Director Alexander Vatagin it will enjoy great demand in Latin America.

According to Rostvertol so far under the already signed contracts with Venezuela eight combat Mi-35M and one multi-purpose transport Mi-26T were delivered to this country Before the end of this year it is planned to deliver two more Mi-35M and two Mi-26T.

An important contribution to strengthening Venezuelan defense would be procuring Russian made air defense systems. Air defense systems made in Russia traditionally surpass their foreign matches. Recently the specific share of the air defense complexes in the total volume of Russia’s military export has been considerably growing. Partially wide scale use of the cruise missiles by the US in the past decade helps this growth.

Some experts believe that the first step between Moscow and Caracas in the field of air defense could be complexes Tor-М1. Others think that Hugo Chavez should start with the shore based anti-ship and air defense systems. It is tempting to predict that Venezuela will have to buy both if it pursues a policy independent of the United State of America.

Yuri Seleznev

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