The Venezuelan Navy (Armada Bolivariana de Venezuela) Almirante Brion (F-22) Mariscal Sucre-class frigate launched a MBDA Otomat missile as part of the Venezuelan military’s exercise ‘Bolivarian Shield 2020’ (‘Escudo Bolivariano 2020’), marking the first time since 2013 the country’s naval forces have fired a live missile in an exercise. The missile from Almirante Brion hitting the bow of the retired oil tanker, which was 73 km away from the warship.
Venezuela ordered six Lupo-class frigates from CNR in 1975 as a replacement for older warships. The Lupo class is a class of frigates built by Cantieri Navali Riuniti (CNR) for the Italian Navy. Designed as multipurpose warships with emphasis on anti-surface warfare (ASuW), they have enjoyed some success in the export market, being acquired by the navies of Peru and Venezuela. A small run of a slightly updated version is known as the Soldati class.
These units were commissioned between 1980 and 1982. In general terms, their appearance and equipment is similar to those built for Peru, except for some differences in electronics and missiles. The first two ships, ARV Mariscal Sucre (F-21) and ARV Almirante Brión (F-22) were upgraded by Ingalls Shipbuilding over a four years period (1998–2002). The other ships in Venezuelan service were expected to undergo an austere version of this upgrade, but three ships were eventually taken out of service.
The Otomat is an anti-ship and coastal defence missile developed by the Italian company Oto Melara jointly with Matra and now made by MBDA. The name comes, for the first versions, from the name of the two builders (OTO Melara MATra) and, for the later versions, Teseo, from the Italian word for Theseus. The MILAS variant is an anti-submarine missile. In its latest version Mk/2E purchased by the Italian Navy is a medium range anti-ship missile and a ground attack missile. 15 Otomat Mk 1 delivered in 1975 for 3 Venezuelan Navy Constitucion FAC; 100 Otomat Mk 2 delivered between 1980/1982 for Venezuelan Navy Lupo – Sucre – frigates; 14 Otomat Mk 2 delivered between 1992/1993 for $17 m deal; 11 Otomat Mk 2 delivered in 2000