Venezuela Revamps Air Defence

A “powerful anti-aircraft system” is being deployed in the west of Venezuela to counter future incursions into the country's airspace, President Nicolas Maduro announced on Wednesday.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Maduro in Sucre state (Prensa Miraflores).
Maduro in Sucre state (Prensa Miraflores).

Mérida, 16th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A “powerful anti-aircraft system” is being deployed in the west of Venezuela to counter future incursions into the country's airspace, President Nicolas Maduro announced on Wednesday.

“Our homeland is unassailable. Nobody will be able to touch even an inch,” Maduro said from a street government address in Sucre state.

The system will be installed in the northern Andes, which run through the west of the country. Maduro gave no further details of the artillery to be deployed, only referring to it as “the most powerful system in the world”.

The Venezuelan military is reportedly been equipped with S-300VM anti-ballistic systems, purchased from Russia. The Russian-made system is designed to counter missiles and fixed-wing aircrafts within a range of 200 kilometres. The S-300 system is considered by some analysts to be among the most effective anti-aircraft systems in the world. Venezuela is currently the largest importer of Russian manufactured arms in South America, and has also worked with Iran to manufacture remote controlled aerial surveillance drones as part of its push to modernise its military.

The president also called for a “morally and ethically...strong” military, with “revolutionary values, ideology and discipline”.

The announcement comes ahead of a meeting between Maduro and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Monday.

The discussion will include a “complete revision of the state of relations”, Santos tweeted on Tuesday.

“We go with the best good faith, the best goodwill,” Maduro responded from Caracas.

“We believe in the coexistence of brothers, in the peaceful coexistence of different models,” he stated.

Colombian-Venezuelan relations took a “step towards derailing” when Santos met with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles in May, according to Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua.

“It’s difficult to work for the peace of a brother people when its highest institutions are encouraging and feeding into destabilisation in Venezuela,” Jaua told Venezuelan media following the controversial meeting.

Earlier this week, Colombian foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin described current relations as “a little cold”, but stated that dialogue between the two countries is ongoing.