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Thread: Venezuela Wants Sub Fleet for Conflict with U.S.

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    Default Venezuela Wants Sub Fleet for Conflict with U.S.

    Venezuela Wants Sub Fleet for Conflict with U.S.
    Venezuela is spending $3 billion to build nine submarines, a fleet of undersea craft that would be the largest in the region -- and ready to be used against the U.S. in event of a conflict between the two countries.

    The submarines will be the "diesel-electric variety," according to a communiqué issued by Vice Adm. Armband Laguna, quoted this month by Brazil's leading newspaper, O Estado de Sao Paulo.

    They will weigh-in at approximately 1,750 metric tons apiece.

    The navy is considering bids from Germany, France, and Russia, which is said to be the odds-on favorite, according to the Washington Times.

    Venezuela, the Times wrote, could use a fleet of submarines to protect its interests in its exclusive economic zone, which in Caracas' view includes a large portion of the Caribbean Sea.

    Protecting an area that large would require far more subs than the two over-30-years-old German U-Boats that the Venezuelan military now employs.

    Moreover, the addition of the nine subs would give Venezuela the largest submarine fleet in Latin America, surpassing those of Peru, Brazil and Chile -- with six, five and four submarines, respectively.

    Venezuela says it is beefing up its military capabilities -- including plans to develop an enlarged submarine fleet -- in preparation for what it called any "asymmetrical conflict" with the U.S.

    The new submarine fleet is a small part of an arms buildup that the Times reports includes small arms, jet fighters and potentially air-defense missiles.

    The buildup is being carried out in compliance with all international and regional nonproliferation treaties, Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez told the Times in a telephone interview.

    Alvarez said that his government was contemplating the need to defend itself against the world's lone superpower, a nation with vastly greater military resources.

    "We have simply been trying to upgrade our military equipment and maintain our defense while preserving balance in the hemisphere," Mr. Alvarez added. He also insisted that Venezuela's Latin American neighbors need not worry about the buildup.

    According to the Times, Venezuela is reported to have already spent $3.4 billion on Russian arms, including assault rifles and fighter jets, and is said to be negotiating to buy a $290 million Russian air-defense system.

    The Times noted that a Pentagon report estimated that Venezuela had spent about $4.3 billion on arms since 2005 alone, more than countries such as Iran, Pakistan and even China.

    Venezuela also is pursuing an estimated $2 billion worth of military-transport ships and aircraft from Spain, a deal that the Times reports was delayed last year after the U.S. objected, noting that foreign companies must seek Washington's approval when de facto selling U.S. military technology.

    Venezuela now is trying to work out a deal with Spain to swap out the U.S. parts in the 10 aircraft and eight vessels.

    Venezuela already has done billions of dollars worth of business with Russia, purchasing 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 24 Sukhoi-30 fighters and about 35 helicopters.

    More recently, Venezuela has its sights set on buying Russian air-defense missiles known as the Tor-M1 system, which consists of eight missiles in a battery mounted to a launch vehicle. The short-range system is designed for use against low-flying aircraft and incoming missiles.

    The Times wrote that a Venezuela military official told the Associated Press last month that the missiles were wanted for "air defense" only -- a notion in keeping with Mr. Chavez's repeated warnings about the threat of a U.S. invasion, a threat the U.S. dismisses as fantasy.

    Among Washington concerns is the fear that the Russian assault rifles could wind up in the hands of leftist rebels in neighboring Colombia or be used to further the Venezuelan leader's socialist agenda in the region.

    "I can see why Chavez wants to militarize Venezuela. ... He's a military man, just like Bolivar was a military man," John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org. told the Times, which noted that Simon Bolivar, whom Mr. Chavez idolizes, liberated several Latin American nations from Spain during the 19th century.

    Waging war with the U.S., however "would be a foolish thing to do," he added, noting that even a minor skirmish would jeopardize Venezuela's oil sales to its largest customer.

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    Default Re: Venezuela Wants Sub Fleet for Conflict with U.S.

    Venezuela acquiring Russian submarines

    Published: Aug. 10, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Venezuela is close to acquiring Russian submarines but President Hugo Chavez isn't giving anything away -- yet.

    He told the audience of his populist Sunday political sermon on Venezuela's state-run radio and television the submarines that are about to join the country's armed forces would be "normal" submersibles with conventional weapons and radar technology.

    "They won't have atomic bombs, I'm saying so now, so they don't accuse of us of becoming nuclear," Chavez said in a characteristic reference to Venezuela's unnamed detractors or his personal critics within the opposition.

    Venezuela went on an arms shopping spree last year, spurred by a tense standoff with Colombia over what Chavez characterized as that country's covert preparations for war after it joined forces with the U.S. military to fight the drug cartels. Both Colombian and U.S. officials dismissed Venezuelan allegations, pointing out that the narcotics threat to North America justified the collaboration to control the drug cartels.

    In the meantime, however, Russian aims to expand the arms market coincided with Chavez's needs and the stage was set for one of the biggest lines of credit for oil-rich Venezuela to buy Russian military hardware. Up to $800 million of credit is available for Venezuelan arms buying in Moscow.

    Critics of Chavez say the country, currently in recession, can ill afford that scale of defense spending on cash or credit. Instead, the critics want the government to channel funds or foreign capital into strengthening the economy. A combination of prolonged drought and alleged government inefficiencies plunged Venezuela into crippling power cuts through winter and spring. Substitutes for hydroelectric power generation are in the cards but not implemented yet.

    Analysts said the Venezuelan purchases of Russian submarines would also solve a major problem for Russian military manufacturers who have been trying to find customers to phase out older items on their inventories. It's not clear what to make of the submarines involved but Caracas and Moscow have been in discussion over a submarine deal since 2005.

    Earlier reports cited Russian interest in transferring to Venezuela at least three diesel-electric powered Project 636 Varshavianka class submarines at a cost that could run over $1 billion.

    Included in the deal would be the training of Venezuelan personnel. It isn't clear if Russian experts and trainers will be stationed in Venezuela, though analysts didn't rule out that possibility.

    The Project 636 submarines, called the Kilo class by NATO, are already in the services of Chinese and Indian navies, while Russia has been busy marketing a much lighter and quieter Project 677 Lada-class submarine in Southeast Asia. The vessels are built at Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard, St. Petersburg.

    Industry experts say Russia expects to maintain a market lead in what are widely seen as relatively inexpensive submarines. More important, Russia is keen to set aside political considerations while pushing for more customers for its hardware to sustain its defense industries.

    The Kilo class submersible is usually equipped with four 533mm torpedo launchers and 10 missile launchers and other equipment. The fighting machine is renowned for being able to resist heavy radio and electronic interference while in operation.

    Venezuela has two German built submarines U-209 dating to the 1970s and considered unable to compete with newer rivals on the high seas.

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