July 14, 2007:
About a hundred Venezuelan air force personnel have been trained to fly
(twenty pilots) and maintain (87 support personnel) the Su-30 aircraft. Two
Su-30 fighter arrived in Venezuela last week, and another 22 are to follow.
Venezuela is replacing its 22 early model F-16s with more modern Su-30s. The
U.S. has refused to provide spare parts for those F-16s, and Venezuela plans to
try and sell the F-16s. However, the purchase contract for those F-16s gave the
U.S. a veto over who the aircraft could be sold to (China, North Korea and Iran
are out.) Venezuela is believed to be paying about $60 million for each Su-30,
which is kind of on the high side for this aircraft. Either there are a lot of
extras, or there are some payoffs involved. Probably a combination of the two.