Venezuela acquired 1,800 antiaircraft missiles from Russia last year

posted at 3:00 pm on December 12, 2010 by Fausta Wertz

Juan Forero, reporting at the Washington Post,
Venezuela acquired 1,800 Russian antiaircraft missiles in ’09

Russia delivered at least 1,800 shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to Venezuela in 2009, U.N. arms control data show, despite vigorous U.S. efforts to stop President Hugo Chavez’s stridently anti-American government from acquiring the weapons.

The United States feared that the missiles could be funneled to Marxist guerrillas fighting Colombia’s pro-American government or Mexican drug cartels, concerns expressed in U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and first reported in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

It had been unclear how many of the Russian SA-24 missiles were delivered to Venezuela, though the transfer itself was not secret. Chavez showed off a few dozen at a military parade in April 2009, saying they could “deter whatever aerial aggression against our country.” A high-level Russian delegation told American officials in Washington in July of that year that 100 of the missiles had been delivered in the first quarter of 2009.

The Russians themselves went on the record,

Then earlier this year, Russia reported to the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms, which records the transnational sale of weaponry, that the deal totaled 1,800 missiles.

What kind of weapons are we talking about?

Matt Schroeder, a missile expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said the missiles are among the most sophisticated in the world and can down aircraft from 19,000 feet

Russia is certainly happy to oblige Hugo Chavez’s armaments race,

The database also shows that from 2006 through 2008, Russia delivered to Venezuela 472 missiles and launching mechanisms, 44 attack helicopters and 24 combat aircraft, purchases funded by Venezuelan oil sales.

Secret American cables said that the United States was concerned about the Chavez government’s acquisition of Russian arms, which also included attack helicopters, Sukhoi fighter planes and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

The Bolivarian Revolution has some evil bedfellows: the FARC and the drug cartels,

A cable from Washington to Moscow dated Feb. 14, 2009, said FARC computer files seized by Colombia’s army indicated that Venezuela tried to facilitate arms market deals for the rebels. It expressed fear that missiles acquired by the FARC, which is mired in the drug trade, could wind up with Mexican cartels that “are actively seeking to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons.”

As I have previously blogged, the anti-aircraft missiles were paid in part by a $2 billion loan from Russia which also went towards the purchase of 92 tanks. This was not the first loan from Russia, either.

You can fool yourself into believing that Hugo Chavez is a clown who will be out of power “sometime soon”, and that he represents no peril to the region. Instead, every move Chavez makes consolidates power on himself, and his actions will continue to represent a threat to his neighbors and to our hemisphere.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog

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What could go wrong?

bernzright777 on December 12, 2010 at 3:03 PM

But let’s ratify START, because you know you can trust the Russians….

Wethal on December 12, 2010 at 3:06 PM

If we had a Reagan in office, we`d be loading up Eastern Europe with medium range missiles and sending more military aid to Colombia.

But we have “Outta-Here Obama.”

ThePrez on December 12, 2010 at 3:08 PM

It’s comforting to know that we paid for those.

BallisticBob on December 12, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Obama is the worst U.S. President in modern history.

albill on December 12, 2010 at 3:27 PM

The “reset” is working like a charm.

Really Right on December 12, 2010 at 3:38 PM

ThePrez,

If we had a Reagan in office, we’d be giving missiles to Iran having Iran kill our soldiers and torture our CIA officers in exchange.

audiculous on December 12, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Did anyone tell him that they are worthless? I beginning to feel that our tactical nuclear arsenal is underused.

SC.Charlie on December 12, 2010 at 3:46 PM

It only takes one, well-aimed, bullet …

OldEnglish on December 12, 2010 at 3:51 PM

It’s worse than that.

There are islamic terror camps in South America, this nutbag is buddy buddy with the Iranians, and our Southern border security is a joke.

What happens if one of our airliners is shot down right here in America? We’d have to shut down all commercial flights – an economic disaster of the first order.

But hey, no more getting groped by TSA agents at least.

Rebar on December 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Two words for ya …

WILD

WEASEL.

Two more …

STEALTH

BOMBER.

Two more …

CRUISE

MISSILE.

Tony737 on December 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Rebar on December 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM

All true, and worse than you know.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait until we get a real President to fix all that.

CPT. Charles on December 12, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Cruise missiles are amazingly difficult to shoot down.

Besides, considering how dysfunctional VZ’s economy is right now, a few mysterious explosions occurring on those oil rigs and it’s lights out.

Bishop on December 12, 2010 at 4:25 PM


… saying they could “deter whatever aerial aggression against our country.”

ppffttt … This guy has no clue. As I said above, WILD … WEASEL … Defense Suppression. Turn on your radar and your radar dies a horrible death … HARM-88′s inbound!

Tony737 on December 12, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Obama is the worst U.S. President in modern history.

albill on December 12, 2010 at 3:27 PM

He’s just a cheesy little Marxist clown. But I’m not worried about Chavez … these missiles would be operated by the Venezuelan military.

Jaibones on December 12, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Yeah, but it’s all to help “the people”…

yubley on December 12, 2010 at 4:38 PM

“Shoulder fired” downing to “19,000 feet”?

Them’s some mighty new rockets and some mighty big shoulders. 1900 meters I can believe and even then a lot of practice is needed. Not exactly WMD. Janes’ should have something.

I respect Fausta but a recheck of fact, in this case, might be worthwhile.

Kinda like the 0.4 and 0.3 Mton NoKo bombs. And the endless parade of marvelous Iranian made weapons that somehow never quite reach operational status. These folk have more mouth than our precedent. If they are so strong, why are primitive weapons (and tactics) their only demonstrated activities?

Caststeel on December 12, 2010 at 4:49 PM

With the sophistication of the Chavez homeguard any airwar would find most of those missles inside MIGs.

MIRAR>>>>>>DA PLANE! FUEGO, AMIGO!

Limerick on December 12, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Obama is the worst U.S. President in modern history.

albill on December 12, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Lets not forget, though. The whole Democrat party is nothing but an Obama clone. He is them. They are him. Every single stinking one of them. Why would anyone want to be a Democrat today is beyond me. They are not just on the wrong side of every issue, they are leading the charge of it.

JellyToast on December 12, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Tell it to the Colombians. FARC is not using them. Heh

Caststeel on December 12, 2010 at 5:00 PM

A back-door way to get the missiles into Iran, if you ask me.

crosspatch on December 12, 2010 at 5:06 PM

http://allrss.com/wikipedia.php?title=9K38_Igla

I wish I had a better reference, but these are new missiles.

Apparently the 9K38(SA-24 referenced in the article) IS listed as 0 to 20,000ft range. There is no distinction between theoretical maximums and practical (or nominal kill success) altitude.

While they say ‘shoulder fired’ in the article, this isn’t really a shoulder fired weapon like the US Stinger. Its more a ‘man portable’ weapon. It appears to be mostly a light duty truck mounted weapon. Mexico is also an operator of the previous versions of this weapon system, where they are shown mounted on trucks.

orbitalair on December 12, 2010 at 5:09 PM

This has the potential to make the Cuban Missile Crisis look like afternoon tea.

Damned shame we don’t have a President.

I wonder how President Palin would handle this.

Park an aircraft carrier and a missile boat of the coast of Hugoland and ask Chavez if he feels lucky.

gary4205 on December 12, 2010 at 5:15 PM

whoops, it is shoulder fired. I read total weight as missile weight. SA-24 Grinch is the latest model. 42lbs ready to fire.

orbitalair on December 12, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Hey Barry and Kissinger, who’s side are you on?

Never trust a Ruskie. Never. Ever.

I miss W.

fogw on December 12, 2010 at 5:18 PM

That’s not all that the I-smell-sulphur Venezuelan is up to. On Monday, Chavez plans to push his allies in congress to grant him powers to enact laws.

And ObaMao wants us to approve a treaty with Russia, which has shown that it has closer alliances to the aggression of Venezuela and Iran?

We have a fool at our helm and a southern hemisphere threat, as well.

onlineanalyst on December 12, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Here is the link re Chavez’s latest mischief.
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20101211/D9K1EPVO0.html

onlineanalyst on December 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Thanks for the info, orbitalair, I should have added links to my post instead of simply quoting the WaPo article (even when Forero is a reliable reporter).

Fausta Wertz on December 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM

BO will focus on this issue as soon as he drops his golf handicap 5 more strokes, shoots some more hoops and gets to take another vacation.

David in ATL on December 12, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Onlineanalyst,
More on that from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit Venezuela politics: New geography of power (posted at my blog in last week’s Carnival of Latin America)

Fausta Wertz on December 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM

And Zero wants to sign another Start Treaty with Putin. We get rid of our weapons and they sell them to our enemies. Sounds like a plan to me.

Kissmygrits on December 12, 2010 at 5:39 PM

orbitalair on December 12, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Thanks and you need not apologize for Wikip.

Small correction, 19,000 ft. horizontally is not the same as vertically. Small matter of gravity.

Okay, for all you worriers out there, this has an ability to shoot down airliners as well as choppers. How about those patdowns, TSA. Not that Hugo wants to open that game.

Caststeel on December 12, 2010 at 5:48 PM

@ orbitalair

Nice find. Especially the chart comparison.

Note there are many other folks with this system. Also FBI seems to have some first class intel about potential sellers/buyers. Sweet.

Seems optimized for choppers/ground attack birds as max approach/departure speeds are on the 300 – 350 mps range. Also IR seeker.

Born way too soon to enjoy these tools. NV, NV our modern military.

Thanks, too, to Fausta.

Caststeel on December 12, 2010 at 6:14 PM

the missiles are a threat to Columbian operations against FARC, if Chavez is brazen enough to transfer them.
FARC already possesses a small stock of them that they’ve bought on the black market or stolen from Peruvian arm stocks.
These things aren’t a danger to combat aircraft, but they don’t belong in terrorists’ hands.
Happily, Raytheon and the US stopped selling to foreigners a decade back.Russia and other nations still sell them and there are a fair number loose and for sale on the sly.

audiculous on December 12, 2010 at 6:23 PM

The Russian regime is absolutely taking advantage of the weakness in our White House.

BKeyser on December 12, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Tony737 on December 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

You forgot GPS guided bombs, drop from as high as 60,000 feet.

mad scientist on December 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Hey, let’s ban drilling and weaken the dollar with debt and create more virtual money because prices are too low, or something.

reaganaut on December 12, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Fausta Wertz on December 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Thank you, Fausta.

Insufficient attention is being paid to Chavez and his seizure of power. The megalomaniac is a threat to SA stability.

I worry, too, at how cozy ObaMao is with Chavez’s methods.

onlineanalyst on December 12, 2010 at 6:41 PM

This is no big deal. Let’s concentrate on repealing DADT. Doing that will ensure our National Security.

hawkdriver on December 12, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Obama will be announcing the blockade any day now…

right2bright on December 12, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Great comment, hawkdriver at 6:56 PM.

Seriously, the world is getting more and more dangerous, and the Obama Administration does not have a clue what to do. The American people made a mistake in November 2008. Obama simply did not an ddoes not have the experience and knowledge to handle competently foreign policy, military matters and national security issues.

Phil Byler on December 12, 2010 at 7:51 PM

Cruise missiles are amazingly difficult to shoot down.
Besides, considering how dysfunctional VZ’s economy is right now, a few mysterious explosions occurring on those oil rigs and it’s lights out.
Bishop on December 12, 2010 at 4:25 PM

But then where would 7-11 get their gasoline?

bugsy on December 12, 2010 at 8:03 PM

There are islamic terror camps in South America…

Rebar on December 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I’m not enthusiastic about the Saudi Arabia “training base” being built in Mountain Home, Idaho, either.

Mountain Home named preferred site for Saudi squadron
Friday, December 10, 2010
Mountain Home News

The Idaho congressional delegation received notification Friday that Mountain Home Air Force Base has been chosen as the preferred site to host a training mission for the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Placing a training base in the United States is part of a $60 billion arms package the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is purchasing from the U.S., which includes 84 new F-15SA fighter jets and upgrades to the Saudi’s current inventory of F-15C fighters…”

Our Pentagon, our U.S. Air Force, our Senate, all happy as punch to welcome Saudi Arabia Muslims (and families) with lots and lots of warcraft.

Lourdes on December 12, 2010 at 8:13 PM

The Russian regime is absolutely taking advantage of the weakness in our White House.

BKeyser on December 12, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Perhaps that’s what Obama’s Wednesday night parties at the White House are for, celebratation

Lourdes on December 12, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Two words for ya …

WILD

WEASEL.

Tony737 on December 12, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Except the Wild Weasels can’t do anything about heat seeking warheads as they are passive. It is also extremely hard to take out a MANPAD as you have to see the man carrying it, an extremely hard task at 5000′ feet let alone 20,000 feet. Yes the SA-24 does have that kind of ability and yes it is man portable and shoulder launched. It is a scary weapon especially since without an active defense system it has to be seen to be avoided. Joe United pilot will not be looking if this “falls” into some of Chavez’s buddy DinnerJacket’s friend’s hands.

cobrakai99 on December 12, 2010 at 9:43 PM

It is also extremely hard to take out a MANPAD as you have to see the man carrying it, an extremely hard task at 5000′ feet let alone 20,000 feet.

It is also very difficult to take out a UAV with video searching for those MANPADs. And if they worked in teams, even if you take one out, a missile from the other one is headed right back at the shooter.

The way those sort of weapons would be countered today is, I believe, by hunting them down with UAVs. Anyone you see carrying one of those things gets blasted before they have a chance to fire it.

crosspatch on December 12, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Also gentlemen, these are not one shot one kill weapons. The best data I found was Stingers in Afghanistan (old data) which listed a hit rate of 79%, but you have to remember that 90% of these were at crossing targets, mostly helos, and by largely untrained Afghan guerillas.

I also found a cool note that said about 200 of the 800 stingers sent to Afghan rebels disappeared in Pakistan.!
Dang CIA.

Use of UAVs (with cool running, protected exhausts) mitigates a large effect of these weapons, which is to curtail air operations.

Also cruise missiles have a interesting effect, even if shot down they blow up something!

I think America really needs to kick out the films of our remote UAV ops where the guys work 8hrs and go home and sleep with their families. Rock huggers in the sandbox can’t/don’t do that. That has to really tick off the fighters in the bush to know that.

orbitalair on December 12, 2010 at 10:41 PM

Trivia: The word for “wicked” or a “wicked person” in Hebrew is “Rushuh”, pronounced the same as “Russia”. If I recall correctly, the first reference of the word in the Torah is in Exodus 2:13.

Shy Guy on December 13, 2010 at 12:37 AM

And now for the good news. President Eunuch really wants this Start Treaty with Russia. We’ll get rid of our nukes and so will they. Only problem is, Russia will give them to Hugo, N. Korea and anyone else. Great job Obama.

Wills on December 13, 2010 at 8:38 AM

For 5 years I worked at very deep, hands on, field level training the south and central American forces in combat arms use, tactics and drills. I feel confident that while these weapons systems and delivery platforms (tanks, attack helos and fighters) represent an eyebrow raising threat to their neighbors, the individuals operating them make me confident that they’s be a speed bump to US forces.

I know it’s not PC, but almost to the individual, the work ethic of every soldier and Marine I trained, at the NCO level and below, was indifferent or uninvolved at best and disinterested in most cases.

Universally preventive maintenance was a concept not a reality. Further the personal weapons systems were outdated, unserviceable and most soldiers had never been to a live fire range..even in boot camp.

Most of the soldiers were conscripts and were 14 – 17 years old, came from mountain farms and had little or no formal education. The only individuals who could read and use commo were at the officer level and the NCO’s would’t make any decisions because they systematically had no confidence or authority and were scared of being reprimanded.

The staff NCO’s used water and rations as a means to discipline the troops and as a result most were malnourished, 80-125 pounds and very short. Rations consisted of eating a bean based porridge once a day, leading to our call sign for Tangos as “Beaners”. They (even officers and nco’s) shamelessly stole everything we had that was not on our body – we even had to post a 24 hour guard on our water buffalo because they thought it contained performance enhancing supplements that made us so much bigger and stronger than them.

My summary is that this makes Hugo the fat bully on the Div 3 Junior Varsity team.

Alden Pyle on December 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Cobrai99:

The Wild Weasels are AA suppression aircraft. They open the way for the heavies. Let Hugo dodge 2000 pound bombs from B1, B2 and B52.

Like Hitler once promise: “Give 5 years and you will not recognized the place.”

El Coqui on December 13, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Tony737 on December 12, 2010 at 4:32 PM

It seems that these are like Stingers. Fire and forget, and drop the tube and drive away. HARMs wouldn’t be much help, nor stealth fighters nor nothin else.

If one airliner gets shot down anywhere in the US he can grin like the Cheshire Cat and say nothing and everyone will know he did it nod nod wink wink.

Whadda we do then? Start bombing Venezuela?

Why not bomb Russia? They sold em.

Akzed on December 13, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Trivia: The word for “wicked” or a “wicked person” in Hebrew is “Rushuh”, pronounced the same as “Russia”. If I recall correctly, the first reference of the word in the Torah is in Exodus 2:13. Shy Guy on December 13, 2010 at 12:37 AM

Huh. Most people who want to make meaningless connections between Russia and the Bible fantasize about Rosh and Meshech meaning Russia and Moscow in Ezekiel 38.

That’s a new one on me.

Akzed on December 13, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Alden Pyle, while first hand observations are to be held at the highest regard. Beaners still shot back in Panama and Grenada. Div3 teams still play, even if they get beat.

If the GA-24 is like the Stinger, then maintenance not so much a problem, but programming is. These systems are software ‘flashable’ to tailor the behaviors to theater.
If they’ve never been programmed properly they could be next to useless, which would be pretty funny actually. The Russians sold them this stuff, then only programmed 1-2 as demos, but left the others with useless default values. :^)

I wonder if Chavez even understands the complexities involved? Who is working with him in acquiring systems? Seems like hes just spending money on bling, when training, food and education would create a more effective force. Of course then they would be angling for takeover….

Thats GREED for ya.

orbitalair on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Beaners still shot back in Panama and Grenada.
on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

heh, I was an 0331 with Wpns Plt, Fox Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Marines, 2nd Mar Div. We pulled the Guam in for a little warm up on our way over to the Root to play with the Moosies.

Alden Pyle on December 13, 2010 at 11:37 AM