After it was revealed that American prosecutors are investigating the presence of Iranian drones in Venezuela, the government publicly admitted that it is manufacturing Unarmed Aerial Vehicles in Maracay, Venezuela, with the technical assistance of Iran, China and other unnamed countries.
Photographs that have appeared indicate that the drones, which the Government of Venezuela claims are strictly for internal surveillance, are the Mohajer-2 class Iranian design, now renamed Sant Arpia.
The stated capability of this type of UAV:
(1) 100 km. range.
(2) 200 km/hr. maximum speed.
(3) Capable of attaining 10,000 feet in altitude.
Whilst the only equipment Venezuela states the drone carries is a camera, capable of day or night operation, the question remains: will Venezuela field armed versions of this, or more advanced designs, and for what purpose ? There are no adversaries on Venezuela's frontiers. Perhaps there's something else to consider, and it is disturbing
The designated Colombian terrorist organisations, the FARC and the ELN, both maintain most of their senior leadership inside Venezuelan sanctuaries, to avoid the Collombian Army. If these UAVs could be deployed on the Venezuela-Colombia border, to conduct surveillance of Colombian military operations, that intelligence would be of great use to FARC and ELN planners.
Additionally, the drones, if armed, could alter the air superiority presently enjoyed by Colombian combat aircraft over the battle zones. This could delay, for years, an ultimate Colombian military victory over the two terrorist armies.
|Aerial photographs of the drone and weapons factories in Maracay|
If Colombia learnt that Venezuelan-manufactured drones were altering the character of the guerrilla war, it might choose to engage in cross-border operations, to destroy the drone launch sites and wipe out the FARC sanctuaries, and possibly even invade Venezuela.
Therefore, the use of drones in Venezuela raises the point: exactly why are they there ?