|Russians Making Major Gains in a Rebounding Latin American Defense Market - Posted on on Saturday, December 02, 04:52 GMT
Russia's efforts to market military equipment to Latin America are bearing fruit. According to Forecast International's annual survey of the Latin American defense market, while initial market penetration came in the form of helicopter orders from Mexico, Venezuela is now chalking up the biggest sales. A series of orders for helicopters and assault rifles, among other items, was capped by a July sale of 24 Sukhoi Su-30 fighters, bringing to $3 billion the value of deals signed with Venezuela in less than two years.
The Venezuelans are now expected to place orders for additional helicopters, as well as tactical transport aircraft, submarines, and air defense systems. However, while high oil prices are funding these procurements, the recent softening of these prices could force Venezuela to reduce the scope of its planned purchases. The Russians have made inroads in other Latin American countries as
well, including Colombia and Uruguay, with Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador
potential customers. Argentina may prove a major sales opportunity,
now that the Argentinian legislature has approved a military accord
signed by the two governments.
The Russians are offering an array of
products, but the Argentinians are primarily interested in helicopters,
transport aircraft, and air defense systems. Argentina's interest is directly tied to a revitalization of the
military's force structure, which follows years of tight funding. The
Argentinian military has considerable pent-up re-equipment needs,
although spending levels will remain contingent on economic conditions.
"The reviving defense market in Argentina appears to be only part of
what is developing into an overall regional move toward re-equipment
after long years of austere budgets," said Latin America analyst Tom
Baranauskas. "The Chilean military has been at the forefront, using
windfall copper income acquired via the so-called Copper Law to carry
out a thorough re-equipment program that has included the purchase of
F-16 fighters, used frigates, and new submarines. Venezuela has now
taken over the lead, but other nations are dusting off requirements
lists or drawing up new lists."
Chile and Venezuela's arms buildup has raised some concerns in
neighboring countries. Colombia plans to increase spending on
conventional warfare after concentrating for years on
counterinsurgency. The Brazilian military appears to be using
Venezuela's military buying spree to prod the national government into
action. Indeed, the Air Force's next-generation fighter requirement
now shows signs of being revived after what appeared to be a
cancellation. Meanwhile, Bolivia and Peru field dated and inadequate
force structures compared to Chile's, while Paraguay is increasing
military spending in the face of Bolivia's closer ties with Venezuela.
While some might characterize these developments as an arms race, much
of the activity still only represents attempts by governments to
finally address long pent-up requirements. Since so much of the
equipment is obsolete, the scope of the replacement needs is
significant. FI's forecast for overall military spending in the region
calls for a moderate rise to $39.9 billion in 2010, after which
spending will ease slightly. Of this amount, only about 20 percent is
earmarked for procurement of equipment (of all types), but this still
represents a sizable market.
Forecast International, Inc., is a leading provider of Market
Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power
systems and military electronics. Based in Newtown, Conn., USA,
Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and
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Peterson, Vice President, Research & Editorial Services,