President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuela has launched the mass production of domestically-developed multifunctional drones and multipurpose light aircraft, as part of a move aimed at enhancing national security in the Latin American nation.
The announcement came after the Venezuelan leader signed a decree to create a National Aviation Service Center, which is to design, produce and service new indigenous aircraft and drones.
“Two prototypes of training planes have been completely manufactured in Venezuela,” Maduro said in a televised address, adding that the single-engine planes are designed to be used in agriculture and aerial surveillance.
The Venezuelan president also presented a multipurpose drone, whose mass production could start in the near future.
Maduro underlined that both projects were designed to “contribute to national development and security” alongside the National Aviation Service Center.
In late September, Maduro ordered the creation of a military scientific council to work on the national weapons system, stressing that the country was ready to arm itself despite sanctions, and that it needed its own national military industry.
In October, the Venezuelan leader, commenting on a statement by Colombian President Ivan Duque who claimed that Venezuela had bought weapons from Iran, said that it was not true but reserved the right for Caracas to buy weapons from any nation in the world.
Venezuela experienced political turmoil when opposition figure Juan Guido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” in January last year, followed by a US-backed botched coup against the elected government. There was also an attempt at assassinating President Maduro in a drone strike in 2018.
Venezuela has been the target of repeated US threats and sanctions, including calls for a military intervention, coup attempts and embargoes on the country’s vital oil industry and other sectors.
Guaido’s self-proclamation as president and his coup attempt has also received backing from the US administration.
Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich South American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido.
The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.