Venezuela to sign deal for 100 Russian tanks – source

MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Venezuela are
expected to sign a contract on the delivery of at least 100 main battle
tanks worth about $500 million to the Latin American country, a Russian
defense industry source said on Wednesday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is expected to arrive in Moscow on
Wednesday for a two-day visit as part of his 11-day foreign tour and
will hold talks with the Russian leadership.

“During the visit, the sides are expected to sign a contract on the
delivery of T-72 and T-90 tanks to Venezuela,” the source said.

Moscow and Caracas could also discuss future deliveries of Russian-made infantry fighting vehicles, the source added.

According to military experts, the T-72 main battle tanks will
comprise the bulk of the deliveries because this tank is cheaper than
the T-90 and better fits the demands of the Latin American market.

The price of a T-90 main battle tank, manufactured by Russia’s
Uralvagonzavod plant is $5-7 million, while the price of a T-72 model
is $1-2 million.

Last year, Uralvagonzavod produced a total of 165 T-90 tanks. Over
half of the vehicles were exported, and the remaining tanks replaced
some of the T-72s in the Russian Armed Forces; therefore, Russia may
have enough T-72 tanks available for the sale to Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Army currently has more than 80 outdated French-made
AMX-30 main battle tanks and several dozen AMX-13C light tanks.

Chavez, who has spent billions of dollars on weapons from Russia in
recent years, earlier confirmed that Caracas and Moscow were discussing
purchases of Russian T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks among other
military equipment.

The Venezuelan president has said the country plans to buy weaponry
from Russia over a possible increase in U.S. military personnel in
neighboring Colombia.

Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than
$4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets,
helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.