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Venezuela F-16 Peace Delta

The Carter administration’s 1977 Presidential Directive 13 (PD-13) blocked the sale of advanced military technology in Latin America. In those 20 years, the US limited its aircraft sales in the region to lower-technology fighters such as the A-4 Skyhawk, the Northrop F-5 in several variants, and the A-37 Dragonfly. The only exception to this policy was the 1982 sale of F-16s to Venezuela by the Reagan administration. The self-imposed US embargo did not limit, nor influence, the entry of advanced fighters into the region. Over the two decades, the French sold over two hundred fighters in South America.

In 1980, the Venezuelan air force performed a thorough study before requesting the F-16 aircraft from the United States. In the course of their study they evaluated, in addition to the F-16, the French Mirage MIR-50, The Israeli KFIR C-2, the British Tornado and the Northrop F-20. Based on each aircraft's performance parameters, available systems and other descriptions, a four step approach was used in the evaluation process. First of all, each aircraft was evaluated on its combat mission effectiveness in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles.

Second, based on equal effectiveness, a determination of the size of the combat force required was performed. Third, a cost evaluation was performed based on initial unit procurement costs and unit operations and support costs. Finally, aircraft were ranked on relative total cost and equal combat effectiveness. Based on their study, the FAV selected the F-16, which they believed to be the aircraft which would take them through the 1990's to counter any possible national threats.

In April 1981, headquarters Air Force Logistics Command was informed of the Republic of Venezuela's interest in purchasing the F-16 aircraft. On 5 August 1981, the International Logistics Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, was tasked with the responsibility of providing price and availability data involving a 24 aircraft program for a possible FMS sale to Venezuela.

In July 1981, President Reagan gave his approval for the F-16A/B sale to Venezuela. At this time the FAV requested an LOA for 24 aircraft, 18 F-16A's and 6 F-16B's, from the Department of Defense. On 5 February 1982, the Senate met to formally approve the Peace Delta sale

In May 1982, the government of Venezuela signed an agreement to buy 24 Block 15 F-16 aircraft. This purchase was under the Peace Delta Foreign Military Sales program. The first aircraft was accepted for the Venezuelan Air Force in September 1983. The first six aircraft (three F-16As and three F-16Bs) were delivered in-country on 16 November 1983. Subsequent deliveries of 18 aircraft (15 F-16As and 3 F-16Bs) were completed in 1985 with the final delivery of six aircraft in November 1985.

Venezuelan Air Force and U.S. Air Force officials realized from the onset that the most difficult obstacle to overcome in the Peace Delta program would be the establishment of a maintenance and administrative workforce in sufficient quantity and quality to support a sophisticated weapon system such as the F-16. This problem would be further compounded due to the accelerated delivery schedule called for in the LOA.

The Peace Delta Program required that six of the aircraft be delivered during the term of President Herrera who had initially approved the request for the F-16s. This delivery date was set at November 1983 since President Herrera was to go out of office in December 1983. Since the U.S. Air Force was not able to support the program until 42 months after LOA signature, the General Dynamics Corporation, Fort Worth Division, had the management and support responsibility during the initial period.

Venezuela’s populist President, Hugo Chavez, took a hostile approach to relations with the United States. Thus his decision to seek advanced military equipment from Russia was a matter of US concern. Chavez embarked on a effort to make Venezuela an important military force in Latin America. And since he has made clear that he planned to obtain additional advanced weapons systems from Russia, there was concern that such purchases could stimulate other states in the region to seek comparable weapons systems as a counterweight to Chavez’s military buildup.

Venezuela's president said in November 2005 that his government may give its US-made fighter jets to Cuba and China, after accusing the United States of breaking an agreement to provide jet parts. President Hugo Chavez said the United States refused to sell parts to Caracas to maintain its fleet of US-made F-16 fighters. Chavez said his nation can do whatever it wants with the jets - even give them to Cuba and China.

The desire of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to escape from dependence on Western nations and institutions positioned Russia as the nation’s logical weapons supplier after 2005 when the United States refused to sell it spare parts for its F-16s.

On February 9, 2006, pursuant to an ICE investigation, Ko-Suen Moo and Maurice Serge Voros, a French national currently living in France, were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida for conspiracy to export defense articles to the People’s Republic of China. Both Moo and Voros were indicted for violation of 18 USC 371, conspiracy; 22 USC 2778, Arms Export Control Act (AECA); 22 CFR 129.2(a), brokering the sale and transfer of defense articles; 18 USC 1956(a), financial transaction involving proceeds of unlawful activity; 18 USC 1956(h), conspiring to commit a money laundering offense; and 18 USC 981 (a)(1)(C) and 982 (a)(1), forfeiture of all real and personal property and proceeds involved in the offense.

In March 2004, ICE/Fort Lauderdale developed information that Moo and Voros were allegedly seeking to acquire controlled technology for export to the PRC. Pursuant to several undercover meetings, ICE agents determined that Moo and Voros were attempting to acquire F-16 military aircraft engines for export from the United States to China without an export license. In November 2005, Moo arrived from Taiwan and ICE undercover agents showed him several F-16 military fighter aircraft engines at Homestead Air Force Base in Homestead, FL. Moo subsequently wire transferred approximately $140,000 to an ICE undercover bank account to cover the transportation costs of the engine. Following the wire transfer of funds, Moo was arrested by ICE. Moo’s trial is scheduled for July 12, 2006. ICE Ft. Lauderdale and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are currently coordinating with the ICE Attaché/Paris and the French National Police to gain the cooperation of Voros.

As of 2004, only six of the 21 remaining F-16s in the Venezuelan fleet were fully mission capable, while a proposed US overhaul of the F-16 squadron remained on hold.

In May 2006 Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez accused the United States of blocking the sale of replacement parts for Venezuela's F-16 fighter jets and U.S. authorities have moved to block military sales to Caracas from Brazil and Spain. Chavez say he was considering the purchase of Russian Sukhoi airplanes, after US efforts to prevent Venezuela from buying military aircraft from other countries.

On 15 May 2006 the United States suspended the sale and retransfers of U.S. arms to the Andean nation, according to the U.S. Department of State. The State Department certified to the U.S. Congress that Venezuela was "not fully cooperating" with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, a designation that State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said was well earned. "They have been placed on this list and they have earned their spot honestly," he said. McCormack cited Venezuela's cultivation of relationships with state sponsors of terror, such as Cuba and Iran, and he indicated that these relationships have hindered intelligence-sharing and anti-terrorism cooperation with Venezuela. "Now, if you're developing a much closer intelligence-sharing relationship with a state sponsor of terror, I think it's only reasonable that the United States is going to say, 'Wait a minute.' We don't know if we can reasonably cooperate with that sort of state because we are worried about a variety of consequences, including the sharing with a state sponsor of terror of information that we have provided on that very subject, trying to fight terror," he explained. The "not fully cooperating" designation will end all commercial arms sales and retransfers to Venezuela.

In response, Gen. Alberto Muller, a senior adviser to Chavez, told The Associated Press he had recommended to the defence minister that Venezuela consider selling the 21 F-16 fighter jets to another country. Muller said he thought it was worthwhile to consider "the feasibility of a negotiation with Iran for the sale of those planes."

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Page last modified: 04-11-2015 19:09:15 ZULU