Friday, October 24, 2008

F-16 Talks Confirmed, But Eurofighter In Picture

The head of Chile's air force confirmed negotiations for the purchase of 16 more F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands. But Gen. Ricardo Ortega told La Tercera that other "very interesting offers" are being evaluated, too. Those include the Eurofigher and used F-16s offered by Denmark and Norway. Meanwhile, Chile is considering a follow-on order of 10 new F-16 C/D Block 50 jets, Flight International reported, citing local sources. The Eurofigher would give FACh another front-line warplane to supplement its existing F-16 fleet. The U.S. arms embargo of the 1970s and '80s taught Chile's military to not rely too heavily on a single country for military hardware. But while the Eurofighter's unit cost is difficult to pinpoint, it certainly would be much more expensive than second-hand F-16s. The entire package of 16 planes plus spares and logistical support would total $170 million. For that money, you can buy one or two Eurofighters. The new aircraft will replace 15 F-5 Tiger III fighters that were purchased in 1976. FACh had planned to keep them flying until 2015. But the structural repairs necessary are no longer cost-effective, defense analyst Jose Higuera told La Tercera.

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