Venezuela is to set aside $480 million to buy 12 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-G) multirole fighters in order to beef up its air force, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in Caracas on Friday.
“President Nicol·s Maduro has authorized $480 million so that Sukhoi planes can continue to protect Venezuela’s airspace,” he said.
According to the Venezuelan defense minister, the nation’s authorities deem important “the continuous strengthening of the republic’s defensive capability along with redoubled efforts to improve public health and education”.
“Despite a global oil price slump and the economic war being waged on this country, the president realizes the necessity for the armed forces to have what they need to have to accomplish the mission assigned by the constitution,” the defense minister stressed. Padrino said a new Sukhoi jet batch would beef up the 23-aircraft fleet in service with Venezuela now.
President Maduro had voiced his intention to acquire Su-30 fighters from Russia in September 2015 – right after an aircraft of the type crashed in the state of Apure for an unknown reason while on patrol along the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Venezuela and Russia signed a contract for 24 Su-30MK2 aircraft in 2006. The delivery was fulfilled in 2008.
The Su-30MK2 (MK standing for ‘upgraded, commercial’ in Russian) is a fourth-generation multirole fighter. The version first flew in 2002. Its weapons suite includes both unguided and guided weapons. The type carries the 30-mm GSh-301 automatic gun. The Su-30MK2 is powered by two AL-31F engines, each with a thrust of 12,500 kgf in afterburner. The fighter has the mid-air refueling capability, up-to-date navigation and communications systems and self-defensive aids suite.
According to Rosoboronexport Director General Anatoly Isaikin, Venezuela is the Latin American leader in terms of Russian armament imports. For instance, the total value of the contracts signed by mid-2013 was estimated at $11 billion.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the country in 2013-2014 took delivery of 12 S-125 Pechora-2M (SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems with 550 V600 (SA-3B) SAMs, 48 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled artillery systems, 123 upgraded BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, including armored recovery vehicles, 1,000 9M117 (AT-10) Bastion antitank missiles (delivered in 2011-2013), three S-300VM (SA-23) SAM systems with 75 9M82M (SA-23A) and 150 9M83M (SA-23B) SAMs, 12 Buk-M2 (SA-17) with 250 9M317 SAMs, 12 9A52 Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems (in 2013), 114 BTR-80A armored personnel carriers (in 2011-2014) and 92 T-72M1M main battle tanks (in 2011-2013).