Chavez wants missiles, arms to protect Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez said his government wants to develop short-range missiles to defend the country's airspace and purchase other arms to safeguard Venezuela from foreign attack. The leader, who has repeatedly accused the United States of planning to invade his oil-rich nation, said Venezuela had test fired missiles on Thursday but it was not clear what kind of projectiles he was referring to. "We're going to have a tremendous air-defense system, and with missiles capable of reaching 200 kilometers," Chavez said Friday during a televised speech. "(It) will convert Venezuela into a nation truly invulnerable to any external threat, invulnerable to any plan of aggression." Chavez denied Venezuela was engaged in an arms buildup or posed a threat to regional stability as Washington has suggested, saying Venezuela was simply modernizing its military after years of neglect. "They are necessary investments. We're not going to attack anybody," he said at the speech at a military academy in Caracas. Chavez also announced spending of more than US$561 million for factories to build automatic AK-103 assault rifles, munitions, and detonators; a facility to train pilots to fly Russian M-17, M-26 and M-35 helicopters, and another facility to overhaul F-5 fighter jets.