Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Netherlands Wraps Up Deliveries of F-16s

The final batch of used F-16 fighter jets for Chile's Air Force has made it to its new home. On Aug. 29, the last five planes left from the Netherlands, plus one more whose flight was delayed by a day. In total, 18 F-16s were purchased under a $270 million agreement in 2009. The first dozen planes were delivered in November 2010 and April of this year. The final deliveries give FACH 36 former Dutch F-16s. The planes, which have undergone the midlife upgrade program (MLU), include 29 of the "A" single-seat version plus seven two-seat "B" samples. The entire fleet of MLU-type F-16s is stationed at the Cerro Moreno air base near Antofagasta. The newer C/D version F-16s are based farther north, near Iquique.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Acquisition of M-109 Howitzers Moving Forward

There are tangible signs that Chile's long-planned purchase of U.S. self-propelled howitzers is becoming a reality. BAE Systems Land and Armaments, of York, Pa., was awarded a $7 million contract to refurbish a dozen M109A+ self-propelled howitzers for Chile, the U.S. Defense Department announced. Work is due to be completed in November, 2012. The howitzers were part of a larger acquisition announced in 2009 to re-equip mechanized artillery units. That included one batch of 12 M-109A3 and an additional dozen M-109A5. It's possible that one batch of M-109s has already been delivered. Chile's disclosures in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms showed a 2009 purchase of 12 self-propelled howitzers, although it didn't specify the model. The Army's plan is to equip each of its armored brigades with its own mechanized artillery battalion. Two battalions, each with 12 M-109s, have been operational for a few years.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Shape of Things to Come

With the modernization of its warplanes, armor and warships essentially complete, Chile is turning its attention to improving its command, control and communications (C3) capabilities. The new acquisition of Hermes 900 UAVs, which include electro-optical equipment, is part of a program by the armed forces to expand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. Operated by the Air Force, the UAVs will -- among other things -- support land and coastal operations. Meanwhile, the 2010 purchase of 34 Man Portable MIDS-JTRS/HMS radios from General Dynamics make it possible for ground troops to link up directly with air-support aircraft. On a broader scale, Chile wants to purchase three Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control systems from Northrop Grumman. The system collects target information from sensors such as Sentinel radars and AWACS planes and integrates it into a comprehensive tactical picture. From there, commanders can send orders to their anti-aircraft units, ranging from man-portable heat-seeking missile units to Avenger mobile missile units (which also are planned for purchase). Radio, GPS and position location systems round out FAAD. Chile also is considering replacing its single Condor (Phalcon) airborne early warning radar aircraft, and has been reviewing the C-295 AEW from Airbus Military and Israel Aerospace Industries, according to Jane's Defence Weekly. The plane fits with FACH's preference for a turboprop platform for this role, and the Navy already operates the C-295 Persuader maritime reconnaissance plane.