National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
National Bolivarian Armed Forces
Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana
Service branches Military shield of venezuela.png National Army
ANRBV.gif National Navy
Aviacion Militar Venezolana.gif Military Aviation
Guardia Nacional de Venezuela.png National Guard
Escudo milicia.png National Militia
Commander-in-Chief President Hugo Chávez
Minister of Defense Carlos José Mata Figueroa
Commander of Operational Strategic Command Henry Rangel Silva
Conscription 18-30 years of age
30 month term
Available for
military service
6,647,124 males, age 16-49[1],
6,801,133 (2008 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Fit for
military service
5,391,582 males, age 16-49[1],
5,873,563 (2009 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Reaching military
age annually
276,051 males,
274,162 (2009 est.) females
Active personnel 123,000
Percent of GDP 1.1% (2010 est.)[1]
Foreign suppliers  Russia

The National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional, FAN) are the overall unified military forces of Venezuela. It includes over 129,150 men and women, under Article 328 of the Constitution, in 5 components of Ground, Sea and Air. The components of the National Armed Forces are:

The main roles of the armed forces are to defend the sovereign national territory of Venezuela, airspace, and islands, fight against drug trafficking, to search and rescue and, in the case of a natural disaster, civil protection. All men that are citizens of Venezuela have a constitutional duty to register for the military at the age of 18, which is the age of majority in Venezuela.


History of the Armed Forces of Venezuela

Armies of the colonial and independence periods

The Venezuelan Armed Forces are denominated "Forjador de Libertades" or "Forger of Freedoms". This refers to Venezuelan armies fighting Venezuela's independence war, as well as the independence wars of five other countries, namely Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Panamá (then part of New Granada, present day Colombia) and Bolivia.

The oldest origin of an organized and professional army, as we know it today, dates back to the Spanish troops quartered in the former Province of Venezuela, in the 18th century. Politically and militarily until the creation of the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777, the Province of Venezuela depended on the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo (in today's Dominican Republic) or the Viceroyalty of New Granada (today, Colombia). In 1732 the Spanish crown created a Military Directorate and established a number of battalions, and had a few units from infantry regiments based in Spain. Reform of the military in the colonies began a few decades later. The first squadrons of cavalry arrived from Spain in 1751. The first companies of Artillery were created two years later. Both Creole whites and blacks were allowed to enter the ranks of the artillery companies. That same year, a Fixed Caracas Battalion was established. Until the creation of this battalion, defense had been based on small colonial militia companies, which initially only accepted whites. Gradually, this racist policy yielded and the entry of mixed-race people was allowed in the militias. It was from these various units that the bulk of officer cadre which commanded patriot troops in the Venezuelan War of Independence emerged. Among them were Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda, Simón Bolívar (Bolívar's own father had been Colonel of the Militia of Aragua), the general in chief Santiago Mariño, Rafael Urdaneta, among many others. With the establishment of an independent captaincy general, the Spanish troops quartered in the province passed to the direct command of Caracas. The troops in the other provinces of the country, under the command of local governors, were overseen by the Captain General of Caracas. In this way a series of autonomous units was created.

Already in the early 19th century, many of these Venezuelan officials began to arrive in the country after participating in military campaigns abroad in the War of American Independence, the French Revolution, or after completing their studies in Europe. With them came a number of mercenaries of many different nationalities English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Brazilian, Poles, Russians, and others. It could be said that in the first two decades of the 19th century, the nascent Liberation Army, was in the midst of the intellectual training of their military cadres, in various attempts to unleash the revolutionary war, and trying to build a modern army. In the midst of that task the generalissimo Francisco de Miranda, and the Liberator Simón Bolívar, who calls for immediate action. Bolívar surprised his military colleagues, when he rejected part of the Napoleonic military assumptions, habits and behaviors, takes more British soldiers, and even through third parties requested the assistance of the British Crown. And made no mistake: the 19th century, ultimately, was dominated by British and Prussian military influences. Once in battle, Bolívar began to develop his own tactics, military strategies and practices, whose legacy reaches us today.

National period

Contrary to what has been written, in the second half of the 19th century, the regular army never turned off, and while the development was stubbornly slow, did not ever stop, evidence of this is the continuation during that time of a school for officers (Military Academy of Mathematics, which was decades in advance of the policy of unification of arms and services of the Spanish military academy, which was in fact posterior to the Venezuelan one), a standing Army, weapons, and creating new services including the Corps of Sappers. This phase of the Venezuelan Army, is marked by infighting and a domain of local militias with no training. The little outside help in military matters at this stage is limited to the English. The military figures (there were other political figures) of the Army's most important at this stage are: Marshal Juan Crisóstomo Falcón, General in Chief Cipriano Castro, Brigadier General Ezequiel Zamora and Manuel Ezequiel Bruzual.

Already in the first half of the 20th century, is the political figure of General in Chief Juan Vicente Gómez, who originally based on the plans of General in Chief Cipriano Castro, began a thorough modernization in the Army, but does not create a new army as Some historians point out. This modernization with the help of instructors and advisers from Chile, France, Italy and Germany. Interestingly, the late Prussian influence, doesn't reach the Venezuelan Army from the Germans, but from the Chileans. One of the most important reforms undertaken during the Gómez regime of the National Armed Forces, which began in 1910 with the aim of making the national army in a uniform, modern and technically advanced.

The reform coincided with the centennial anniversary of the main homelands, which contributes to the doctrinal and political cohesion of the army. The most important milestones of this reform were:

In 1910, operation of the Military Academy of Venezuela that was formed in 1903 started, and within it, the Nautical School (then called Naval School of Venezuela), establishing the School of Application for Military officers in active service with the aim of upgrading their military expertise. In 1913 the Superior Technical Office responsible for the development of military doctrine, organization and training of the army, was founded.

In 1920 the School of Military Aviation of Venezuela was established . It is located in Maracay and was inaugurated the first of January of the next year.

In 1923/1930 a new Code of Military law was adopted that superseded all previous military laws and responded to the new political and military situation in the country. This process was accompanied by the modernization of the infrastructure, provision of arms, equipment, uniforms and a sustained growth of the military budget, which was made possible by oil revenues. The reform had a strong German influence. This is due mainly to the fact the Prussian army was the most modern of the era and in this sense become a model internationally.

The most important political consequence of this reform was the military defeat and political caudillismo, converted in 1913 after anti-gomecism. Since 1914 Gomez always retained the post of commander in chief of the Army, even when not holding the presidency of the Republic. The power base of support of the regime after 1913, apart from the yellow liberals and nationalists, was the military, which becomes an essential element of repression to ensure public order and national progress.

At this stage the military and political figures more relevant (apart from the general Gómez himself), were the General in Chief Eleazar López Contreras and Division General Isaías Medina Angarita.

The second half of the 20th century, was just as turbulent for the Army, but it was projected into the future as a modern force, though not yet cohesive. Already under the government of Division General Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the American influence (cultural, political and military) became more prominent then in the entire history of the army. So jealous of the Venezuelan Army, over the subsequent decades, he kept a precarious existing French influence, as a balance to the overwhelming American influence. Between the years 1945 and 1952, there was a major program of military equipment purchases almost monopolized by the United States (although other military material was acquired from other sources). And again in the early years of the decade of the'70s, albeit in a more balanced way by their countries of origin.

The new Army of the 21st century, was born again under a turbulent internal and external picture for the nation. But in a relatively short time it has undergone significant changes, including its name (from National Armed Forces to Bolivarian National Armed Force) to its doctrines, switching from a non-political position to one that defends socialism and the bolivarian revolution itself. This change has been clearly visible by the swithover of partners and suppliers from 1999, year that marked the end of a long-standing cooperation between the National Armed Forces it´s the United States similar, to a new system of "multilateral alliances" with the Russian Federation as the biggest of those allies.

High Command and the High Council of the FAN

Ministry of Defense in Caracas.

The President of Venezuela is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, thus he had overall supervision and control over it.

He is assisted in his functions by the Military High Command of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which consists of the Minister of Defense who is an officer of the armed forces with the rank of general or admiral in chief (which is the only officer who holds this rank in the armed forces), the Chief of the Defense Inspectorate General, the Chief of the Strategic Operational Command, Major General of the Army, the Commander General of the Navy, the Commander General of the Air Force, the Commander General of the National Guard, and the Chief of the General Command of the National Reserve and National Mobilization (LOFAN Art. 42).

The High Council of the FAN is made by the Military High Command. It is the principal organ for consultation and advice of the President of the Republic, of the Council of National Defense and Minister of Defense, on issues of organization, operation, development and employment of the Armed Forces, either in peacetime or in state of emergency.

Its current minister of defense is General-In-Chief Carlos José Mata Figueroa.

Operational Strategic Command

The Operational Strategic Command (CEOFAN) is the highest organ of programming, planning, management, implementation and strategic joint operational control of the National Armed Forces, with jurisdiction over the entire geographical area of the Nation and in mainland areas, water and space, according to treaties signed and ratified by the Republic. This organization is supported legally by the current Article 60 of the Organic Law of the National Armed Forces (LOFAN). This body was called by the Law of Armed Forces LOFAN: CUFAN (Unified Command of the Armed Forces). The leadership of this organ is held by a major general or rear admiral of a component of the FAN. Basically the Operational Strategic Command (CEO) is the body responsible for coordinating the action of military units belonging to different components of the Armed Forces, for example, an air war, where they participate Army battalions, groups of aviation and air support units from the Navy, National Guard or the reserve, would be coordinated by the CEO.

Its current commander is General in Chief Henry Rangel Silva.[2]

The newly created military regions, are subordinate to the CEO.

Military Regions

Regiones Estrategicas de Defensa Integral (REDI, Integral Strategic Defense Regions), were activated recently, on 13 September 2008, in compliance with the provisions of the new Organic Law of the National Army.

Are organized in the following way:

REDI Central (Central Integral Strategic Defense Regions). Comprises the States: Vargas, Miranda, Aragua, Carabobo and Yaracuy, and the Capital District. This commanded by Major General Paredes Juan Vicente Torrealba.

REDI Occidental (Western Integral Strategic Defense Regions) Comprises the States: Falcón Lara, Trujillo, Mérida, Tachira and Zulia. This commanded by Major General Motta Luis Dominguez.

REDI Los Llanos (Plains Integral Strategic Defense Regions). Comprises the States: Apure, Portuguesa, Barinas, Guarico and Cojedes. This commanded by Major General Pernalete Oropeza Jorge Arevalo.

REDI Oriental (Eastern Integral Strategic Defense Regions). comprises the States: Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Sucre and Nueva Esparta. This commanded by Admiral Jose Pedro Diaz Gonzalez.

REDI Guayana (Guiana Integral Strategic Defense Regions). Comprising States: Bolivar and Amazonas. This commanded by Major General Félix Antonio Velásquez.

Branches of the Military

File:Venezuelan FV101 Scorpion 90.jpg
A Venezuelan Scorpion 90 tank

According to Article 9 of the Organic Law of the National Armed Forces, which entered into force on 26 September 2005, the FAN is composed of four components, the Army, Navy, the Air Force, National Guard, which operate in an integrated manner and are supplemented by the National Reserve and Territorial Guard, gathered at the General Command of the National Reserve and National Mobilization, as the fifth component of it, to meet defense and participate in the defense of the Nation. Each component has its own command and general staff, logistical structures and training schools, with the exception of the Reserve, which is fed by tables of NCO, sergeants and officers previously trained in other branches, but it has its own training centers, and has initiated special courses for training officers.

About 83,000 soldiers were integrated in the military through a fifth service branch, the Armed Reserve, although some of this force is more of a militia than a formal, professional armed corps.[citation needed].

In 2006 the FAN was transformed into six service branches, the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, National Reserve and the Territorial Guard. The Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard will serve under the Strategic Operational Command (Comando Estratégico Operacional), the National Reserve and the Territorial Guard will serve under the National Reserve and Mobilization Command (Comando General de la Reserva Nacional y Movilizacion Nacional)


The Venezuelan Army (Fuerzas Terrestres or Ejército), is made up today of roughly 63,000 troops (including conscripts). Its main function is planning, implementing and monitoring terrestrial military operations in coordination with the other components of the national armed forces, in pursuit of the Integrated Defense of the Nation. Currently, it is organized in six operating divisions: an Army Aviation Command, The Army Corps of Engineers, The Logistics Command, and Military Schools. It is a modern and disciplined army, composed of armored units, infantry, engineers and artillery, with a significant force projection power, and resources that allows to develop various types of airlift operations proportional to its size.

Its current commander is Major General Euclides Campos.[2][3]


Venezuelan Frigates

The Venezuelan Navy (Fuerzas Navales or Armada) and (Infanteria Marina) is a modern navy of medium dimensions and ocean capable. The primary mission of the Navy is to implement, manage and control naval operations, naval aircraft, and the Coast Guard in support of Navy activities to ensure the execution of plans of employment.

The staff is estimated at roughly 18,300 men and women. This figure includes 8,000 Marines and some 500 personnel from the Naval Aviation. The chain of command of the Venezuelan Navy is: General in Chief, Inspector General and Chief of General Staff. There are five major commands: Naval Logistics Command, Naval Personnel Command, Naval Education Command and the Naval Operations Command, which in turn is composed of: Squad Command, the River Command, the Naval Aviation Command, the Coast Guard Command and the Marine Division. Operationally, the country is divided into two Naval zones; Western Naval Zone (HQ: Punto Fijo) and Eastern Naval Area (HQ: Carupano) that currently covers the Atlantic coast. It is planned the activation of the projected areas: Central Naval Area (HQ: Puerto Cabello), Atlantic (HQ: Güiria) and South (HQ: Caicara Orinoco).

Its commander is Admiral Carlos Máximo Aniasi Turchi.

Air Force

The Venezuelan Air Force (Fuerzas Aéreas or Aviación), at the present time, is one of the most modern air forces in Latin America. It was organized the same as the other military components, namely: Air Operations Command (integrated in twelve Air Groups, consisting of regiments of transport aircraft, helicopters and fighter aircraft), the Command of Air Defense, the Command of Airborne Troops, the Logistics Command, and the Command of Personnel. Its main objective is to protect the airspace of Venezuela in coordination with the other components of the National Armed Forces, and to participate actively in the development of the nation. In 2007, the Air Force was renamed as The Bolivarian Military Air force of Venezuela.

Its commander is Major General Jorge Arévalo Pernalete Oropeza.

National Guard

The National Guard of Venezuela (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or Guardia Nacional), according to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, will conduct operations required for the maintenance of internal order in the country, cooperate in military operations required to ensure the defense of the Nation, exercise administrative and police activities of Criminal Investigation assigned to it by the laws, and will actively participate in national development in the territory of the nation. It is a military corps with police functions. With roughly 36.000 troops, its organized into twelve regional commands (brigade size), with plans to expand that number to fifteen. Additionally, there is the Coastal Surveillance Command, the Air Support Command, the Command School of the National Guard, and the Logistics Support Command. It is planned to structure the National Guard in divisions, under the command of the Territorial Commands. In 2007, the National Guard was renamed as The Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela.

Its commander is Major General Luis Mota Domínguez.[2][3]

National Militia

The General Command of the National Militia is divided in two parts:

1. The National Reserve, consisting of all Venezuelan citizens who are not in active military service, or have completed military service, or who voluntarily join the reserve units.

2. The Territorial Guard, consisting of all Venezuelan citizens who voluntarily serve to organize local resistance to any external aggression.

At the moment the General Command of the National Militia, is organized on the basis of nine (09) Reserve groupings, present throughout the national territory, and a dozen of Special Resistance Corps (grouped around workers contingents of enterprises and national institutions). It is an autonomous and auxiliary force for the remaining branches of the FAN. It can be estimated at the present time about 400.000 men and women are on various training levels, but the target of its authorities is to reach 1,100,000.

The Commander of the National Militia is Divisional General Gustavo Enrique González López.[3]

Military Ranks

The army's officer rank system is a system of non-commissioned ranks, with eighteen non-commissioned ranks from Distinguido to Maestro Técnico Supervisor.

By contrast, the level of officers, as junior officers or above, is identical. Ranks for general officers and admirals has only three ranks. General officers only have the rank of brigadier general, General, and general in chief. Admirals and officers are only against the ranges of rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral.

A reform of the hierarchy was announced in the press. However, it has not happened to date. It was announced that the professional career non-commissioned officers (SOPC) would be known as technical officer. It was also adopted in the new law LOFANB, in which the rank of Major General came after Division General and General in Chief. In the Navy, the Admiral in Chief rank would be equivalent to General in Chief.

Article 62 of the Organic Law of the Bolivarian National Armed Force, the order of ranks of military officers, and their equivalents. Article 63 of the Organic Law of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, provides the military hierarchy of Troop Training. Article 69 of the Organic Law of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, provides the military hierarchy of the enlisted troops.

Mission Miranda

The main goal of the armed forces are to organize, recruit, record, monitor, and re-train the Armed Forces Reserves with the aim of defending the integrity of the country through military defense, cooperation in maintaining internal order, and active participation in the national development.


  • 1. Form a structural organization of adequate reserves for the needs of the FAN.
  • 2. Procure the required infrastructure for the various commands of the reserve in each of the components.
  • 3. Procure equipment and materials for storage to be used by members of the Reserve of the Armed Forces:
  • 4. Develop an effective registration and monitoring program to ensure the identification, recording and location by region of the personnel of the Armed Forces Reserve.
  • 5. Meet the curricular plans and instructional programs for academic activities and skills of the staff of the Armed Forces Reserve.
  • 6. Meet the curricular plans and instructional programs for retraining of staff of the Reserve of the Armed Forces during periods of field drills.
  • 7. Logistically support all the processes that must be met in the organization of the Armed Forces Reserve
  • 8. Planning, procuring and implementing the annual budget required for the operation and maintenance of reserve units.
  • 9. Ensure the employment of staff that makes up the Armed Forces Reserve in the different scenarios of action foreseen in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
  • 10. Incentives to seek the staff of the Reserve of the Armed Forces for their recruitment.

Modernization - Arms purchases from 2005-2009

Hugo Chavez, and Vladimir Putin. Russia has been the main supplier of weapons to Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government has embarked on a massive military modernization and purchases that greatly expand their defensive and offensive capabilities, including negotiations for German submarines and transport aircraft, several agreements with Russia (outlined below), transport aircraft and naval vessels from Spain, radars from China, home-made and designed armored light vehicles and rocket launchers, studies for Russian main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, amongst many others. Most if not all European military hardware have not been delivered to Venezuela due to the U.S. embargo.

Surveillance radars, AK-103s and helicopters: Mi-17, Mi-26 and Mi-35

Venezuela in 2005 acquired 3 JYL-1 long range 3D surveillance radars from China at a cost of $150 million. The 3 JYL-1s, which are truck mounted, were all delivered by 2007.[4]

Also that year, Venezuela bought 51 military helicopters from Russia, by 2008 all 51 had been delivered to the Venezuelan armed forces, the helicopters acquired were: 40 Mi-17, 3 Mi-26 and 8 Mi-35.[5] Then in 2006 the country purchased 100,000 Russian AK-103 assault rifles ,[6] all delivered in that same year.[7] Chavez also claimed to have acquired a license to manufacture Kalashnikovs in Venezuela,[7] but the factory hasn't yet been built.[8][9]

Su-30s and missiles

In 2006 Venezuela purchased 24 Su-30MK jet fighters also from Russia, all delivered by 2008.[5] In order to equip those fighters the country bought a large assortment of missiles, it is estimated that Venezuela acquired: 200 laser guided bombs types KAB-500 and KAB-1500, 50 Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles, 50 Kh-31A1 anti-ship missiles, 50 Kh-59ME TV-guided cruise missiles, 100 Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles and 150 Vympel R-73 short-range air-to-air missiles.[4]

Night vision equipment, sniper rifles and submarines

In 2007, the Belarussian military optics industry agreed to supply the Venezuelan army with night vision devices, and install on, as Hugo Chavez described, "every single rifle in the Venezuelan army." The deal is valued at $3–$24 million.[10] Later that year, Chavez announced plans to purchase of 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles from the Russian Rosoboronexport, adding that Venezuela must ready itself for a "possible U.S. invasion."[11] It is not clear whether that deal was completed. In all, from 2005 to 2007 Venezuela purchased more than $4.4 billion in weapons from Russia.[12][13]

After signing an "initial contract", Venezuela was expected in June 2007 to finalize the acquisition of five diesel Project 636 Kilo class submarines, and at a later date finalize the acquisition of four diesel Project 677 Amur class submarines.[14] In spite of the expectations, Chavez didn't sign the deal. Ten months later in April 2008, Venezuela decided to negotiate with Russia a loan of about $800 million for the acquisition of 4 diesel Project 636 Kilo class submarines.[15] During that time Venezuela was also considering the purchase of 12 Il-76 transport aircraft. The submarines plus the aircraft were going to cost a total of $1.5 billion.[15] However, this acquisition deal wasn't completed either.[5] The negotiations for the purchase of the submarines broke down and 6 submarines that were once planned for Venezuela are now being offered to Vietnam.[16][17]

Russian loans and the Chinese K-8W light jet

In September 2008, Russia provided Venezuela with a $1 billion loan to buy Russian weapons. A Kremlin source said "The Russian side has made the decision to extend to Venezuela a $1 billion loan for a military cooperation program." [18] There is a lot of speculation about which weapons will be bought with that loan. Venezuela has shown interest on the following weapons: TOR-M1 SAM systems, T-72 tanks, Su-35 jet fighters and Il-76 military cargo aircraft.[5] Despite of the interest and the Russian credit line, no deal has been finalized.[5] In October 2008 Rosoboronexport informed that Venezuela was close to buying among other things a "large shipment of BMP-3" infantry fighting vehicles,[19] however that deal too wasn't finalized.[5]

Also in September Chavez confirmed that Venezuela purchased 24 K-8 Karakorum trainer jets from China.[20][21] The deal, which is estimated to be worth between $72–$84 million, was the biggest Venezuelan arms deal of 2008.[5]

On the 21 of July 2010, one Chinese K-8 light jet went down. Pilot and assistant ejected.

Venezuela has acquired an undisclosed number of SA-24 Igla-S man-portable surface to air missiles.[22] The SA-24 Igla-S is the most advanced version built in Russia.[23] This acquisition was only confirmed after 50 SA-24 Igla-S were paraded by soldiers in Caracas in April 2009.[23] In reaction to the acquisition the US State Department declared: "We are concerned about Venezuelan arms purchases that exceed its needs and are therefore potentially destabilizing".[23]

In September 2009 Russia agreed to loan Venezuela over $2 billion to finance the purchase of weapons including tanks and advanced anti-aircraft missiles. It was stated that because of lower crude prices, the country needed to borrow the money for defence spending to avoid cuts in education and health. The deal includes orders for 92 T-72 tanks and the Buk-M2, S-125 Neva/Pechora missile system and S-300 air-defence systems and also the BM-30 Smerch rocket artillery system. President Hugo Chavez stated that "Venezuela has no plans to invade anybody, or to be aggressive towards anybody," and "with these rockets it's going to be very difficult for foreign planes to come and bomb us". Chavez repeated Venezuela's commitment to developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes with the help of Russia and reiterated his strong opposition to nuclear weapons.[24]

Controversy with the United States

These acquisitions and other projects have been greeted with criticism from the United States, which opposes the government of President Hugo Chávez. The U.S. accuses Venezuela of starting an arms race, which they claim will destabilize the military equilibrium in South America. Venezuela is also accused of supplying small arms to neighboring Colombian guerrilla organizations including FARC, which is sympathetic to Chávez.[25][26]

United States criticism is met with skepticism by Venezuelan authorities, who claim the weapons are needed to update the basic equipment in the armed forces. In some cases, Venezuelan armaments like the FN FAL have been in service more than 50 years. The government also claims that the U.S. has been the one to initiate arms races and de-stabilize countries by supplying subversive groups in Latin America throughout the past century (referring to the Cold War and the contra affair, among numerous other incidents).

In the 1990s Venezuela requested a batch of F-16C/Ds to update its F-16 fighter fleet, but the U.S. government blocked the request.[27] In October 1997 the U.S. government approved the sale of the two crash replacement F-16s, but subsequently halted the sale.[28] In 2005 a contract with Israel Aircraft Industries to upgrade Venezuela's F-16s was frozen following U.S. pressure.[29] Chavez subsequently accused the U.S. of delaying the sale of spare parts to maintain Venezuela’s F-16s. After remarks by Chavez that he would sell or lend the 'unused' F-16's to any country that wanted them, including Iran, the U.S. Government agreed to supply the spare parts; however, the shipment was detained at the Customs Office in Maiquetia International Airport due to security concerns.[30][31]

Russia has agreed to sell more than $4 billion (£2 billion) worth of armaments to Venezuela since 2005 and disclosed that Mr Chávez wanted new antiaircraft systems and more fighter jets.[32]

U.S. military embargo

The government of the United States announced an embargo of military material and equipments to Venezuela; no United States made weapons or technology can be sold to Venezuela by any country or company.[33] This embargo has harmed several Venezuelan purchases, as not only are U.S. technology goods unavailable, but other nations friendly to the U.S. have been pressured to block sales of arms to Venezuela, as well. This is also considered one of the reasons Venezuela has turned to Russia and China for arms, in a move reminiscent of the Cold War.

In 2005 Venezuela signed agreements with Spain to procure 12 naval transport and reconnaissance aircraft and eight naval patrol vessels. The deal is worth $1.5-2 billion dollars to the Spanish defense industry, as well as an estimated 900 new jobs, but was cancelled due to the U.S. embargo. The cancellation does not affect the eight naval patrol vessels.

Below is a list of acquisitions frustrated directly or indirectly by the U.S. embargo:[34]

  • Czech Republic Aero L-159 Alca Jets from the Czech Republic: the Czech government forbade Aero Vodochody, the manufacturer, from creating a variant with French avionics and Ukrainian engines, specially requested by Venezuela.
  • Sweden Saab AB, a Swedish arms company announced it would honor the U.S. embargo, and would not sell arms to Venezuela. Carl Gustav recoilless rifles, AT4 AT weapons, as well as RBS-70 AA systems are in service in the Venezuelan military.
  • Spain Spanish company EADS CASA halted the sale of several transport planes that contained extensive U.S. technology.
  • Brazil Brazil was forced to cancel the sale of Embraer Super Tucano airplanes to the Venezuelan Air Force due to its use of Pratt & Whitney engines. Embraer was also forced to cancel the sale of AEW&C equipped planes.
  • France France decided to block the sale of Scorpene submarines to Venezuela.
  • Russia Russian companies Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for procuring arms for Venezuela.


  1. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook -- Venezuela". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d e f g
  6. ^ G1 > Mundo - NOTÍCIAS - 'Gringo que se meter por aqui, 'pum'!', afirma Chávez
  7. ^ a b Toothaker, Christopher (18 June 2006). "Chavez Kalashnikov Factory Plan Stirs Fear". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Venezuela's Chavez to buy jets during Russia visit - report". Forbes. 21 July 2008. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ G1 > Mundo - NOTÍCIAS - 'Gringo que se meter por aqui, 'pum'!', afirma Chávez
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Harding, Luke (15 June 2007). "Venezuela strikes £500m deal to buy Russian submarines". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Russia to build six submarines for Vietnam: Report". The Times Of India. 27 April 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Venezuela expects first Chinese planes in 2009-Chavez". Forbes. 25 September 2008. 
  22. ^ "Venezuela freezes relations with Colombia -". CNN. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Daniels, Alfonso (24 January 2005). "Chávez 'funding turmoil across Bolivia'". The Guardian (London).,12716,1396985,00.htm. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  27. ^ AirToAirCombat.Com: F-16C Fighting Falcon LockheedMartin F-16 Origins
  28. ^ F-16 Air Forces - Venezuela
  29. ^ US Roadblocks re: the Venezuela-Israel F-16 Upgrade: Politics or Protectionism?
  30. ^ World/ReadArticle.Asp | 15 August 2007 | Global News For The Digital World
  31. ^ [1][dead link]
  32. ^ 23 September 2008 | Russia engages in 'gangland' diplomacy as it sends warship to the Caribbean | TimesOnline
  33. ^ EEUU decreta un embargo de armas contra Venezuela
  34. ^

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