Sunday, May 1, 2022

Chile's Marines Finally Get Some Armor with Purchase from New Zealand

Chile's marines are finally getting some modern armored fighting vehicles with the purchase of NZLAV 8x8 vehicles from New Zealand's surplus inventory. The $19.8 million deal is for 22 NZLAVs, which are New Zealand's version of the LAV III and were built by General Dynamics Land Systems in Canada. The vehicles are armed with the 25mm M242 Bushmaster automatic cannon and a pair of 7.62 mm machine guns plus grenade launchers. It is used mainly for reconnaissance missions, and has been reinforced for mine protection, according to InfoDefensa. The LAV III model was the basis for the U.S. Stryker armored vehicle. Deliveries are set for this year and next. The acquisition gives Chile's marines a replacement for their FV-101 Scorpion light tanks. The NZLAV will likely form part of the expeditionary amphibious brigade, which often operates as an embarked battalion and is the centerpiece of Chile's modest amphibious force. Negotiations started about two years ago, when Chile expressed interest in buying the Coyote LAV from Canada, which is equipped with an advance set of sensors. Although that deal fell apart, a Canadian trade organization helped Chile make the deal with New Zealand.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Chile Ends Military's Support Role in Conflict Zone, but Armor Stays Behind

Chile's new progressive government ended on March 26 the emergency order that allowed military forces to patrol the so-called southern macrozone, where indigenous combatants have been battling police, ranchers and logging companies for years. After six months of military support, Chile is no closer to pacification than before. Some areas remain under control of armed Mapuche groups. With the exit of the armed forces, Carabineros are left to fight on their own. But the Army is transferring armored personnel carriers to the police force. Specifically 17 to 20 Mowag Piranha vehicles are now in the Carabineros' fleet. It appears they are 6x6 vehicles without the usual .30 or .50 caliber machine guns. Chile's military is still engaged in a similar support mission in the northern areas of the country, where drug trafficking and illegal immigration are blamed for a crime wave.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Chile's New Defense Minister No Friend of the Military

Incoming president Gabriel Boric named Maya Fernandez Allende as his minister of defense, and she will formally take the post on March 11. If that surname sounds familiar, it's because the new minister is the granddaughter of Salvador Allende, the socialist president overthrown in the 1973 military coup. A toddler at the time, she fled with her family to Cuba, where she spent 21 years. She moved back to Chile in 1990 with the return of democracy. She held various political posts and is trained as a veterinarian. The new minister hasn't said much about her plans for her new post, but it is sure to cause friction with the armed forces. Not only is there the obvious antagonism, but her father was a Cuban intelligence official. Although he died in 2016, some worry she still has connections to Cuba's regime, and sensitive Chilean military information could fall into Cuban hands. That said, Fernandez Allende may not be a disaster for Chile's military. While she was a lawmaker, she served on a panel that sought a rapprochement with the armed forces. And she's not the first socialist to be defense secretary. In 2002, Michelle Bachelet — whose Air Force father died while being held for opposing the coup — became the first woman to lead Chile's Ministry of Defense. During her term, the military was able to make important modernization programs, including the replacement of Navy frigates. Bachelet, who was herself imprisoned by the military dictatorship, was able to work with the armed forces despite a hostile past. But his time, Fernandez Allende steps into the top post of the armed forces at a time when a new constitutional assembly is debating changes to the military's role in the country.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Chile Buys E-3D Aiborne Early Warning Aircraft from Britain

Chile's Air Force finalized a deal to purchase three E-3D Sentry airborne early warning aircraft from the U.K. Royal Air Force. The planes are part of a fleet of AWACS planes retired in 2021 by the RAF, and negotiations to buy the planes began at that time. According to Jane's, the deal is finalized but terms were not disclosed. Plans are to use one of the three planes for spare parts and keep the other two in operating condition. The E-3D, based on a Boeing 707 platform similar to what the USAF used for many years, replaces Chile's single Condor, an aged 707 converted into airborne radar by Israel Aircraft Industries. That plane, Jane's says, was built in 1965 as a test bed for Boeing and was sold to then-Lan Chile (now Latam) in 1969. Then it was sold to FACh in 1990. The E-3D planes have updated CFM56 engines, maritime surveillance equipment and refueling booms, according to U.K. Defence Journal.This could be one of the last weapons acquisitions before leftist Gabriel Boric is sworn in as president. His government is not expected to be friendly to the military.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Upgrades Completed on Navy's Type 23 Frigates

One of the Navy's most far-reaching upgrade programs is now completed, after Asmar delivered the third and final Type 23 frigate with greatly improved electronics and armament. The upgrades extend the service life of each of the ships by 20 years. The three warships now carry the Lockheed Martin MCS 330 combat management system, the Hensoldt TRS 4D multifunction radar and MSSR 2000 secondary radar, MBDA's CAMM air defense missiles, and Viasat Link 16 and Link 22 datalink systems. FF 06 Almirante Condell was the last of the three Type 23s to undergo the upgrade, which took about a year for each ship. The program not only increases each ship's detection abilities, but it also provides each with an anti-air defensive umbrella of up to 25 kilometers with the CAMM missiles. The British Navy chose CAMM to replace the Sea Ceptor missiles.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Air Force Closes Investigation of Hercules Crash Without Finding Cause

Nearly two years after a Hercules C-130 plane was lost at sea, Chile's Air Force has concluded its investigation without determining the cause. Most of the wreckage was never found, and the few pieces recovered weren't enough to determine the cause. Searchers spent months looking for debris using ships and aircraft. The FACH C-130 went down in waters between the tip of South America and Antartica in December 2019. All 38 crew members on board perished. The Air Force is not done with the case, however. It faces lawsuits alleging negligence, and a prosecutor is still investigating the crash.