As the United States affirms it is continuing to consider military action against Venezuela amid an escalating crisis, which has most recently resulted in Washington calling on its allies to deny Russian aircraft access to their airspace if transiting supplies to the Latin state shortly followed later by direct calls for regime change on April 30th, the capabilities of Venezuela’s armed forces to prevent the state's overthrow have been repeatedly called to question. While the country’s ground forces and people’s militias are numerous and well prepared for a guerrilla campaign against a potential adversary however, the ability of the United States to win wars by dominating the air has not been lost on Venezuela’s armed forces - which have invested heavily in acquiring state of the art air defence capabilities. Even with the sophisticated multi layered air defence network currently in place however, including the S-300VM, BuK-M2 and S-125 respectively covering long, intermediate and short ranges complemented by anti aircraft artillery and&nbsp; handheld MANPADS, the country's of defend its airspace against a directed U.S. attack remains highly questionable. B-1B and B-52H heavy bombers and Arleigh Burke Class destroyers will be able to strike&nbsp;Venezuelan military facilities from well beyond retaliation range using standoff cruise missiles, standard practice for the opening stages of an attack, and while Venezuelan systems such as the S-300VM will likely intercept a significant proportion of these, only a few missiles need to get through to undermine the air defence network and neutralise key targets such as airfields and command centres. Though these subsonic cruise missiles cost over $1 million each, Venezuela’s S-300VM and BuK-M2 batteries are likely to run out of interceptors well before the U.S. depletes is cruise missile stocks - even assuming a generous interception rate. Furthermore, the U.S. Air Force’s stealthy F-22 Raptors and EC-130H electronic attack aircraft are ideally suited to suppress high end enemy air defences - and would likely work in cohesion with standoff assets to soften the Venezuelan air defence network at an early stage.&nbsp;While Venezuela's armed forces field a number of assets which could make a U.S. air campaign far more challenging than any it has waged since the Korean War, chances for a Venezuelan victory remain slim. Indeed, for a country under attack by standoff assets without retaliatory capability of its own, even defining what victory could mean within realistic parameters remains difficult. While the U.S. may perceive a victory as inevitable, if this will come at the cost of undermining the image of some of its most advanced military hardware this may well be a price not worth paying. Therein may lie Venezuela’s military sole deterrent to a U.S. air campaign. The S-300VM is around 40 years ahead of any long range air defence system the Western Bloc has ever faced in its sophistication, and while the U.S. Air Force will be able to strike Venezuelan targets from well beyond the platform’s engagement range if a high enough percentage of American missiles are downed - and this repeats itself over several waves of attacks - the result for the image of American military strength and U.S. defence products could be seriously tarnished. For a third world rentier economy notorious for corruption and hardly considered a major military power to seriously blunting an American air attack could be a disaster for the U.S. military not in terms of losses faced, but in terms of the damage to its image.&nbsp;Not only is the S-300VM specialised in missile defence, but it is also the most mobile long range air defence system in the world alongside the newer S-300V4 - an aspect of the design prioritised to ensure high survivability. The missile batteries' tracked launch vehicles are one result of this, providing off road capabilities which the S-300PMU-2 and S-400 lack.&nbsp;The shorter ranged BuK-M2 systems, designed for even greater mobility, would further complicate risk assessments. Should the U.S. fail to neutralise Venezuelan airfields in the conflict’s early stages - either due to concealment, fortification or the success of the country’s air defences, the country’s Su-30MK2 fighters could post a serious threat. These heavily armed long range fighters represent the country’s only form of retaliatory capability - not only against U.S. military bases in the region but also against American military aircraft themselves - with their&nbsp;powerful&nbsp;sensors, high speed and long&nbsp;engagement&nbsp;range allowing them to&nbsp;potentially&nbsp;pose a threat to U.S. bombers, AWACS and other key support&nbsp;platforms.&nbsp;Venezuela’s Su-30MK2 jets are currently equipped with Kh-29L/T, Kh-31A and Kh-59M anti ship missiles - the ranges of which combined with the heavy high flying aircraft’s own considerable endurance allows them to pose a threat to hostile warships operating at standoff ranges. The subsonic Kh-59M has a 115km range, carries a 320kg warhead and is highly precise. The lighter Kh-31A carries a 94kg warhead and has a 103km warhead, but is potentially more dangerous due to its very high impact speed of Mach 3.5 - enough to tear most warships in half with a direct hit. The shorter ranged Kh-29T carries a far larger warhead of 320kg, but is limited to a 12km range. The think tank IISS also reports that Venezuela’s armed forces have access to the French AM39 Exocet air launched cruise missile - originally acquired for the country’s Mirage 5 attack jets - though weather these munitions have been modified to launch from the ground or somehow fitted to the country’s serving combat aircraft is unknown. While Venezuela’s Air Force lacks AWACS support, providing American fighter squadrons with a considerable advantage in a potential engagement, a coordinated attack by all four Su-30MK2 squadrons could pose a serous threat to both American warships and military facilities - possibly with half the fighters flying escort with R-77 and R-27ER long range missiles while the other half are armed primarily for a strike or ship hunting role.&nbsp;Ultimately the fact that Venezuela has not invested in an advanced deterrent capability - unlike other small states which have perceived similar threats such as North Korea and to a lesser extent Syria and Iran - and this leaves it far more vulnerable to a potential attack. The lack of a&nbsp;viable offensive deterrent forces Caracas to rely overwhelmingly on alliances and political&nbsp;manoeuvres&nbsp;to prevent an American attack. Failing that, the sophistication of its most advanced aerial warfare assets may well serve as a secondary deterring factor - though they are unlikely to be&nbsp;decisive&nbsp;particularly&nbsp;given their relatively small numbers,&nbsp;the&nbsp;questionable training of their operators and the ability of the U.S.&nbsp;military&nbsp;to rely&nbsp;on standoff&nbsp;assets&nbsp;to avoid the risks of&nbsp;engaging&nbsp;at closer ranges.&nbsp;How the ongoing crisis will resolve itself, and whether American and allied efforts to oust the current Venezuelan government will lead to direct&nbsp;military&nbsp;action, remains to be seen.