Friday, January 18, 2008

A310 Tankers To Lack Refueling Boom

Chile's new A310 MRTT tanker/transport planes won't have an in-flight refueling boom, Jane's Defence Weekly reported. The planes will have a hose-and-drogue system, but the booms were dropped on "operational and financial grounds." While the A310s can refuel the F-5 Tiger III fighters, they cannot support the more modern F-16s. The Jane's article also noted several defense programs planned for 2008, including an order for 14-20 turboprop trainers and a competition for advanced trainers. Chile's air force also is seeking used Hercules transport planes to upgrade and replace older C-130B aircraft. (Only one of six acquired is still in service). Two existing C-130H planes are to go through a life-extension program. The Condor (Phalcon) AWACS plane is being overhauled to keep it flying until 2016. In the navy, the Cougar attack helicopters also will go a life extension, though a date wasn't given. The frigate Williams goes into refit in March in which a 3-D radar, communications suite, Oto Melara gun and Harpoon missiles will be added.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shipyard Wins Ecuador Submarine Contract

In a new sign of cooperation with Chile's military, Ecuador is sending two Type 209-1300 submarines to Asmar for refit. The $120 million project is one of Ecuador's largest defense contracts in recent years. The German-built subs -- the Shiri and the Huancavilca -- were built in the 1970s. The deal with Asmar, a company owned by Chile's navy, follows Ecuador's acquisition of two Chilean frigates in exchange for oil exploration. (See prior post.) Asmar has experience working on Chile's own Type 209 subs. Asmar has a busy backlog, with jobs pending for an offshore patrol vessel for Iceland, another for Chile and a new research vessel also for Chile.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chile Seeks To Export More Arms

Having acquired fighter jets, warships and armored vehicles, Chile is putting its old military hardware up for sale. The first significant deal is the sale of two Leander-class frigates to Ecuador. In an unusual financing arrangement, Ecuador would pay for the ships by opening up exploration of the Gulf of Guayaquil to Chile's Empresa Nacional del PetrĂ³leo (ENAP), and share the oil and gas production. Ecuador's president said last month the oil-for-ships deal is needed to defend that nation against drug runners, human smugglers and pirates. Ecuador already operates two Leanders, but one is practically retired and will be scuttled to keep the second one sailing. Ecuador and Chile share a historic adversary in Peru. Meanwhile, Chile is entertaining offers for its retired Mirage warplanes and AMX-30 tanks. In the past, Chile had exported mainly small arms. Its biggest export success has been the Pillan trainer airplane, sold to Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Paraguay, Spain, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.