CARACAS -- Venezuela plans to build its own torpedoes to arm submarines and frigates, the navy on Monday, the latest move by President Hugo Chavez to modernize the military.
Chavez, a relentless critic of the United States, rattled nerves earlier this month when he briefly ordered tank battalions to the border in a spat with Colombia during a diplomatic crisis.
The Venezuelan navy said on its Web site it was developing a project to design and build heavy torpedoes for two submarines and lighter missiles for its frigates.
It also plans to build underwater mines, radar and sonar systems as part of a project to modernize its small fleet.
Venezuela has bought Russian-built fighter jets and other weaponry in recent years to strengthen its armed forces.
Chavez, an outspoken critic of the United States who accuses Washington of plotting to overthrow his government, says the arms purchases are needed to replace aging equipment.
Venezuelan intensifies a regional crisis sparked by Colombia earlier this month, after Colombia attacked a rebel camp across the border in Ecuador. Venezuela and Ecuador briefly cut diplomatic ties and mobilized troops.
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