Venezuela is currently negotiating with European and Russian companies the purchase of nine submarines valued in three billion US dollars for the event of an attack from United States, report several South American newspapers.
If the project finally goes ahead Venezuela will have 11 submarines, the largest fleet in South America, followed by Peru with six, Brazil 5, Colombia and Chile 4, Argentina 3 and Ecuador 2. Reports from Caracas indicate that the submarines will be diesel-electric powered and the leading candidates for the huge contract are the Spanish-French Scorpone yards, Germany and Russia's Amur, which are considered the most state of the art non nuclear submersibles. According to Venezuelan General Alberto Muller Rojas from the presidential strategic high command "given US hostility towards the president Hugo Chavez regime" the Navy was ordered to consider possible conflict theatres. "Several hypotheses were considered and for the Navy submarines could be an efficient force, although the Army and Air Force favor a missiles defense". According to Argentina's Nueva Mayoria think tank the Venezuelan strategy considers two scenarios: a naval blockade by United States to strangle oil exports or a direct attack by US forces. The submarines should be operational by 2012 and will have 12 days autonomy. Venezuela last year signed a 3 billion US dollars agreement to purchase from Russia 54 helicopters, 24 fighter bombers SU-30 and 100.000 Kalashnikov AK 103 assault rifles. "Following the traumatic experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan, the air-sea theatre is the most probable option for the Pentagon, as could happen now with Iran", says a report from the Venezuelan high command. Nueva Mayoria think tank estimates that the current Venezuelan armament involves almost eight billion US dollars, a figure similar to that disbursed by the main emerging countries in Aisa such as China, India, Pakistan or Iran. Venezuelan rearming plans has South American neighbors restless, plus President Chavez influence over Bolivia's Evo Morales and other Socialist oriented movements in the continent, and his close contacts and full support of Iran.