Friday, August 24, 2012

EADS-Enaer Partnership Fails Legal Test

An alliance between EADS/Airbus Military and Enaer, the Air Force's aerospace company, has been found to be illegal. Chile's Comptroller General said the proposed partnership violates the laws governing state-owned businesses. Basically, this is how the legal interpretation breaks down: Because of Enaer's obligations under a manufacturing contract with Brazil's Embraer, the Chilean company would have needed to fold all operations except military maintenance into a new company jointly owned with EADS. Chilean law, however, mandates that these operations must always be under direct and sole control of Chile and its armed forces. The framework for the EADS deal, therefore, breaks the law. The decision is a big setback for Enaer, which has been struggling financially and was looking to the EADS alliance as a way to shore up its manufacturing business. The union that represents Enaer workers brought the complaint, fearing that the EADS deal could cost them jobs, even though they were assured of continued employment with the new combined company. Enaer has incurred losses and continues to struggle financially, according to statements published in Chile's Senate website. There's been no public reaction from FACH or the Ministry of Defense.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chile's Frustrating Battle Against Domestic Terrorism

In the past six years, about 150 terrorist bombs have exploded in Chile. Most have been small devices that caused relatively modest damage. The targets are usually business storefronts, including those of multinational corporations. Police had no arrests and little progress -- until they caught a lucky break last year. A young anarchist targeted a branch of Santander Bank in Santiago, but the bomb blew up on him. He lost one hand, part of another, part of his eyesight and was badly burned. The young bomber got his comeuppance, it seemed. But this month, a court dismissed terrorism charges against him and sentenced him to six years of probation. The light sentence caused a public backlash, as many Chileans saw their best shot at a terror suspect practically evaporate. But the 23-year-old bomber is not out of the woods. Unlike the U.S. legal system, Chile's courts allow the state to appeal a criminal sentence. That's the next step in the largely fruitless battle against the bombers. In June, six defendants accused of planting bombs were acquitted. The judge cited a lack of evidence.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chile Sets Sights on New UAVs, Ships, Radar

The commander in chief of Chile's Army visited Israel to get a first-hand look at unmanned aerial vehicles as a decision nears on a batch of smaller-scale UAVs. The Skylark 1LE from Elbit Systems has emerged as the favorite, according to Infodefensa.com. One of the advantages of the Skylark is that its optical and tracking systems can be used to target Spike anti-tank missiles, currently the backbone of the Army's anti-armor arsenal. Infodefensa.com notes, however, that competitors are irked that one of the Army's requirements is that the mini-UAV must be compatible with the Hermes 900 heavy UAV, which Chile has acquired. The Navy is looking to replace a handful of support ships. A pair of 780-ton landing ships are due for replacement, and the Navy-owned Asmar shipyard is expected to be the builder. A new icebreaker is in longer-term plans. No timetable has been given for those projects. For the Air Force, multiple reports say a new TRS Ground Master 400 radar is being delivered next year.  The mobile 3-D radar, made by ThalesRaytheon, can detect aircraft at high and low altitudes and as far out as 470 km (nearly 300 miles).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

FACh Featured in Air Forces Monthly

The September edition of Air Forces Monthly magazine has a special report on Chile's Air Force (Fach). The article notes that negotiations on the purchase of additional Black Hawk helicopters have resumed, while a replacement for the T-36 Toqui jet trainers is planned for 2013. In the early 1980s, FACh ordered 13 CASA C-101BB planes (named T-36 in Chile), followed by two more in 1991, the article says. Except for a single copy, all have been replaced by the new A-29B Super Tucanos. The ground attack version of the C-101 was ordered in 1984, with 23 copies purchased, Air Forces Monthly reported. Along with the sole converted T-36, all were upgraded in the mid-1990s to include heads-up displays, new avionics and the ability to fire Shafrif air-to-air missiles. Among other interesting details, the seven-page report also includes an order-of-battle table of the entire FACh.