May 23, 2013
Argentina, Venezuela to sign military agreement
By Carolina Barros
Tomorrow Argentina and Venezuela are due to sign a military co-operation agreement. This accord, which would pledge political rather than arms commitments, will be inked by Argentine Defence Minister Arturo Puricelli and his Venezuelan counterpart General Henry Rangel Silva.
The full terms and scope of the prospective agreement have not yet been disclosed but some defence experts were speculating yesterday
that a military agreement with the Bolivarian country could leave the door at least ajar for Argentine access to the weaponry already entering Venezuela regularly from Russia, Iran and China. Yet reality also bites — in a year when Argentina is tightening its belt (at perhaps no time in history have the Armed Forces been so low on funding and matériel), the best and most economical option would be “direct purchases without Venezuela as the middleman,” defence and strategy specialist Fabián Calle tells the Herald.
As for the interest on the other side of the fence (i.e. the Venezuelan) in the products of Fabricaciones Militares munitions plant or FADEA (Fábrica Argentina de Aviones) aviation factory, Venezuela says that it is doing very nicely, thank you very much, what with Sukhoi aircraft, anti-aircraft batteries, MI 17 helicopters, tanks, Kalashnikov rifles (the classic AK47s, the weapon of choice of both the Armed Forces and, allegedly, convicts in prison apart from the promise — yet to be honoured — to install two factories for the serial production of the weapon), Russian submarines to replace the diesel-powered German subs rusting in La Guaira, etc. In a word, Moscow keeps them happy. Not to mention Iran‘s promises of providing them with drones (unmanned aircraft) while China has already agreed to send 18 K-8W combat aircraft, thus making the shopping-list pretty complete (but also including a Spanish ingredient, eight patrol-boats or pocket frigates now being assembled in Iberian shipyards).
Yet some sources would not rule out an agreement recently signed between Puricelli and his Chinese counterparts eventually leading to exports to Venezuela. This deal links up Córdoba’s FADEA and China’s Catic to produce Z11 helicopters (a copy of the Eucaril manufactured by France’s Eurocopter). Argentina has already bought two of those and now seeks to produce them although it will have to clarify some details concerning the licence, until now strictly limited to the Chinese market.
In any case the deal to be inked in Caracas is, above all, a political signal alongside the increasing intensive exchange of officers and military trainees between Venezuela and Argentina. Evidence of these ever closer and increasingly consolidated links between the Bolivarian and Argentine men in uniform is that the military attachés of the Venezuelan Embassy in Asunción were received here after the new Federico Franco government asked them to leave Paraguay in the light of Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro’s suspected intervention in the local crisis.
And just to remove any lingering doubts as to whether tomorrow’s Caracas agreement between the Argentine and Venezuelan defence ministers has a solid political base, Puricelli will be received in a private audience by Hugo Chávez himself.