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.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Chile Sends in the Troops to Control Indigenous Revolt

President Sebastian PiƱera used special powers to deploy the military into Chile's most troubled region. The so-called southern macrozone has been plagued by armed attacks on ranches, forestry operations, truckers and others, with acts occurring almost daily. In the past couple of years, armed groups of Mapuche fighters have elevated a yearslong campaign to regain lost ancestral lands, a conflict that has claimed lives of Mapuches, police and citizens. Under the decree, an Army general and a Navy rear admiral will command forces, which will patrol and provide support. The order runs only 15 days, after which the president needs reauthorization. The move is controversial, with opponents saying the militarization of the zone will only feed a cycle of violence. For others, it's a necessary step to bring some order to the area. Authorities say organized crime and drug gangs are mixed in with Mapuche fighters. Why did it take so long to move the military into the area? For one, the armed forces are reluctant to take on policing roles, and had just ended months of deployment in Chilean cities enforcing a Covid-19 curfew.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Defunding the Carabineros

Chile's new constitutional assembly is busy drafting proposals, and a committee proposed eliminating the nation's police force and replacing it with a new institution grounded in social justice and human rights. For many leftists, it would be a dream to eliminate the Carabineros, which formed part of the military dictatorship and today remain a nemesis. The head of Carabineros and some officials in the current government blasted the proposal, saying there is room for reform but not outright abolishment. The proposal saw a setback when the constitutional assembly's rules commission said the assembly lacks the authority to eliminate the police. With a whole new legal system being drawn up, who's to know if the new constitution will include a new police force. Carabineros may end up fighting for their survival, while Chileans could be left wondering how or who will fight crime. It also says that no matter what happens, Carabineros are likely to face a more skeptical or even hostile government forged out of the assembly.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Army Awards Contracts for Armor Upgrades

 The Army's Famae armaments supplier selected Elbit Systems to modernize the fire control system for the Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks. Famae also picked Belgium-based OIP Land Systems to upgrade the optics and aiming systems in the Army's Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles. Both programs will replace obsolete systems in the German-made armored vehicles, which were acquired second hand with much of their original equipment. The contracts are part of an electronics modernization program for Chile's armor units, a project named Proaco. As InfoDefensa notes, the new contracts could pose challenges because Famae chose companies that don't have as much experience with Leopard 2 and Marder vehicles.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Chile's Military, Police Personnel Rapidly Diminishing


The number of applicants to become non-commissioned officers in Chile's national police force plummeted 86% from last year, while police officer applications declined almost as much. Only 380 Chileans have applied this year, far fewer than the 2,137 average applicants over the past decade. Carabineros blame the decline on Covid-19 quarantines, but they also acknowledge that political turmoil has hurt the institution's image. Distrust in government runs high, and that includes the police. There's also a sense of frustration among many Chileans that the justice system doesn't punish crime effectively, which is fueling recidivism. The armed forces have a similar problem. In 2020, fewer than 4,000 volunteered for military service, less than half the number from 2019. The number has been trending down for years. Army brass have cited demographics as one reason (there are fewer draft-age men and women). But they also admit the military and police have an image problem. In 2019, a survey found that 69% of Chileans believe Carabineros and the military are responsible for abuses. The political upheaval that began with mass riots in October 2019 only contributed to that image, even if the military reluctantly took to the streets. Under Chilean law, the armed forces can draft the numbers they need to fill their ranks each year. But it's not difficult to get a deferment. Military leaders would rather work with volunteers, anyway.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Chile Replenishes its Hercules C-130 Fleet

 Chile's Air Force is adding two used Lockheed Hercules C-130H transport planes, thanks to a donation from the U.S. government. The first plane was delivered April 22 after serving with the Montana Air National Guard. The delivery came with a bonus: The plane was packed with Covid-19 relief supplies. Chile's Hercules have been used to transport Covid patients from remote locations, including Easter Island. The second Hercules is set for delivery in the next few months. The acquisition helps Chile recover the loss of a C-130 that crashed in the ocean in 2019, leaving all on board dead. That plane was a model H, the same as the newly acquired Hercules. Including the donated planes, Chile's Air Force operates four C-130H and three C-130R and a single C-130B. The latter is likely to be retired when the second Herc is delivered.