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23 Nov 14. Venezuela signs up for VN1, hints at Chinese amphibious vehicles buy. Images from the official Twitter account of the Venezuelan Navy indicate that the Bolivarian Naval Infantry could soon be equipped with three different Chinese amphibious fighting vehicles: a development that would make Venezuela’s marines one of the most potent amphibious forces in Latin America. Images posted on 16 November show a delegation led by Venezuelan Admiral Jairo Avendano Quintero receiving the VN1 8×8 wheeled amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), while others show the delegation inspecting VN18 and VN16 amphibious IFVs, apparently at a China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) plant. The Venezuelan Navy confirmed the VN1 purchase in July and the most recent images probably date from then. The number of vehicles to be acquired has not been disclosed. The VN1 purchase stems from a 2012 contract for USD500m, reportedly funded in part by Chinese soft loans and Venezuelan oil shipments, that followed a 2010 decision by then president Hugo Chavez to double the size of the marines. In 2010 the Naval Infantry was credited with 7,000 troops while in 2014 reports of its numbers vary between 7,000 and 11,000. Venezuela’s purchase of the VN1 marks its first foreign sale. The 21-tonne VN1 carries a crew of three plus seven dismounts, can be armed with a 30 mm cannon or a smaller machine gun, has a top speed of 100 km/h, and a range of 800 km. It comes in a number of versions: command; electronic warfare; ambulance; and armoured recovery, although it is not known which versions Venezuela has bought. If concluded, Venezuela’s purchase of the VN18 and VN16 would be the platforms’ first foreign sale. They first appeared in People’s Liberation Army and People’s Liberation Army Navy Marines service in 2006 as the ZBD-05 and the ZTD-05 respectively. A brochure released by Norinco at Eurosatory 2014 said the aluminum-hulled VN18 has a combat weight of 26.5 tonnes, a top land speed of 65 km/h, a top water speed of 25 km/h and can carry a crew of three plus 11 dismounts. It is armed with a 30 mm cannon and co-axial 7.62 machine gun in a stabilised turret and also has a computerised fire-control system. The VN16 is armed with a stabilised 105 mm cannon that can fire a version of Norinco’s 5 km-range GP-2 gun-launched anti-tank missile, developed from the Russian 9M117 Bastion 4 km-range gun-launched missile. The VN18 and VN16 would supplement Venezuela’s inventory of between 7 and 11 US-supplied LVTP-7 tracked amphibious assault vehicles. The VN18 and VN16s will be likely to embark Venezuela’s new 730-tonne displacement Los Frailes-class landing craft utility (LCU) ships, which are being built by Cuba’s DAMEX Shipyard: a joint-venture with Damen Shipyard Group of the Netherlands. Three of the ships have been delivered, while the fourth was launched at the Damex shipyard in Santiago Bay in June.
Venezuela has become an important first customer for Chinese land systems, writes James Hardy. In 2013 IHS Jane’s reported that the Venezuelan National Guard had acquired 141 VN4 4×4 light armoured vehicles. In addition to the VN4, China is believed to have upgraded up to 500 of Venezuela’s original Type 63 light amphibious tanks with enhanced amphibious capability and the installation of a new welded-steel turret with increased ballistic protection. Venezuela has also taken delivery of Type 86 IFV (an upgraded version of the Russian BMP-1 IFV), Type 63 command post vehicles, and PLZ89 122 mm self-propelled artillery systems: equipment that provided the Venezuelan marines with a significant increase in overall capability. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Nov 14. BMC Speeds Up Production of MRAPs for Turkish Army. Turkish armored vehicles maker BMC has increased the pace for production of the