Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three Trends in Chile's Military Acquisitions

As a developing economy, Chile has the freedom to shop for weapons in any nation that produces them. By tracking acquisitions, you can detect some trends that Chile's armed forces and government have been favoring. Bargain prices are a big influence in any procurement decision, but not always. Three tendencies in procurement can be identified:
Buy American. The Army and Air Force continue to pattern themselves after U.S. forces, or as NATO members. The backbone of the Air Force (FACh) is the F-16 squadrons, which are well equipped with U.S.-made mission software, Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles, and they regularly train with USAF. In the Army, there's more of NATO flavor, with German Leopard 2 and Marder AFVs as front-line armor. This pro-Western stance also means Russia has not been able to penetrate the Chilean market, despite that Chile kicked the tires on Ural trucks, BTR APCs and came close to buying Mi-17 helicopters.
Peacetime use is a plus. No stranger to major disasters, Chile has acquired field hospitals, a major multi-role ship, transport planes and other logistical equipment that can serve in war and peacetime. In a related trend, some recent procurement has gone to its peacekeeping forces.
EADS and Eurocopter prevail. While FACh prefers U.S. weaponry, the Army and Navy more often go with Airbus Military. The Army uses Cougar helicopters, and the Navy its naval variant. The C-295 Persuader is the new maritime patrol aircraft. But Boeing's MD 530 light helicopters are said to be well regarded in the Army as scout helicopters.

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