It seems that Russia's Mikoyan-Gurevich and Sukhoi corporations will compete against each other in Venezuela. The country's Defense Ministry is considering purchasing Su-27 fighter-bombers and Su-25 ground-attack jets even though it has not completed talks on buying MiG-29-SMT air-superiority fighters, a leading business daily, Vedomosti, writes.
A delegation of Venezuela's Defense Ministry saw Sukhoi aircraft at a defense technology exhibition for Latin America that ended in Rio de Janeiro on April 29. Venezuela could buy Su-25s for its navy and Su-27 for its air force. In all, two squadrons, comprising 10 to 12 Su-25s and Su-27s, might be purchased.
In October 2004, Moscow promised to sell defense systems worth $500 million to the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. The first contract for the delivery of 10 Mil Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters, as well as 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles worth $120 million, was signed in February. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complained then that Venezuelan weapons could fall into the hands of Colombian rebels and other anti-U.S. forces in Latin America.
Venezuela is experiencing problems with its military aircraft because the United States has refused to sell spare parts for the 22 F-16 fighters that were bought before Chavez's election, Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Center for Analyzing Strategies and Technologies, said. In his opinion, Moscow could sell Su-25s and Su-27s from its air-force surplus because their batch production has stopped. In that case, the entire contract would cost about $250 million, the paper writes.
However, the contract would deprive the MiG concern of money, as the company is negotiating the sale of MiG-29-SMT fighters worth about $250 million to Venezuela, Marat Kenzhetayev, an expert with the Center of Disarmament Problems, said.
The USA is extremely concerned about Russia's new hypersonic weapons. Moreover, the USA wants Russia to destroy those new weapons