Sunday, February 17, 2013

Apaches Among Helicopter Options for Chile

On the 'wish list'
The three branches of Chile's armed forces find themselves with plans to purchase helicopters. Of several reports surfacing in recent weeks, the most noteworthy is a possible acquisition of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the Army. Air Forces Monthly reported Chile has second-hand Apaches on its "wish list." The Netherlands, which has already made major arms deals with Chile, may put on the market a dozen AH-64A copters. The Apaches would represent a big leap in air-attack capabilities for the Army, as well as a change in doctrine. The Army has been looking for a more modest scout-type helicopter. With Apaches, the Army would have enought firepower to provide some its own close-air support -- a role that traditionally has rested with the Air Force. Meanwhile, the Air Force (FACh) is expected to seek bids for six to eight transport helicopters. Plans for a fleet of helicopters for support of natural disasters (and at least partly financed with non-defense funds) have been in the works for years, but have not moved forward. The UH-60 Black Hawk, Eurocopter AS-532 or EC-225, Mil Mi-171 and AgustaWestland AW149 are expected to be in contention, according to Infodefensa.com. But the website said a rumored purchase of surplus Black Hawks from the U.S. is not in the offing. The Navy, for its part, is trying to renovate its fleet of light helicopters. Those aircraft are 1970s-vintage Bell 206 Jet Rangers and 1980s-era MBB Bo-105. The Navy is considering a purchase of eight helicopters, Infodefensa.com said.

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