Venezuela buys Chinese jets for drug war
Venezuela on March 13 tested six training and light attack jets bought from China for defense and anti-drug flights in a deal that dodges an embargo banning sales of US weapons parts to the left-populist government of Hugo Chávez. Caracas ordered a total of 18 K-8 jets from China after a plan to buy similar jets from Brazil's Embraer fell through, apparently because they include US electrical systems. Said Chávez during a televised display of the jets' capabilities: "Thank you, China. The empire wanted to leave us unarmed. Socialist China, revolutionary China appeared and here are our K-8 planes."
Venezuela also recently bought a network of 10 radars from China, and has spent about $4 billion on Russian weapons—including fighter jets to replace F-16 planes that are rusting away because of the US embargo, which started in 2006. "With God's help, Venezuela is going to be a socialist power," Chávez said, adding that remaining K-8s were due this year. "We need to be well equipped and trained...to protect our skies, our soil, our territory, which has one of the world's biggest riches of water, oil, energy and gas." (Reuters, March 13)