The Associated Press
December 06, 2007
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela plans on buying 12 Russian-built military planes, including Ilyushin-76 transport planes and Ilyushin-78 refueling aircraft, an air force official said Wednesday.
Under President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has already purchased some $3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets.
Air Force Col. Oswaldo Hernandez Sanchez did not provide any details regarding the planes to be purchased from Russia, saying only that he expected them to arrive in Venezuela late next year.
Chavez - a former army lieutenant colonel - says Venezuela needs new transport planes to replace Hercules C-130 planes because of maintenance problems caused a U.S. ban on arms sales to the South American country.
The U.S. State Department imposed the ban, which affects the sale by other countries of any military hardware containing U.S. technology, citing a lack of support by Chavez's government for counterterrorism efforts and its increasingly close relations with Iran and communist-led Cuba.