Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Navy's Wish List: Icebreaker, Helicopters, Light Aircraft

AP 46 Almirante Viel
In an interview with El Mercurio, the Navy's new commander said he is satisfied with the size and capabilites of Chile's fleet, but he has four acquisition programs in his sights. Chile's only icebreaker, the 45-year-old Almirante Viel, is due to be retired soon, and a replacement has become a priority as Chile reinforces its sovereignty in the Antartic region. Adm. Enrique LarraƱaga also said the Navy plans to replace its Skymaster light maritime patrol planes with seven new aircraft. Two more Super Puma helicopters are planned, as well as replacements for the oldest light helicopters in the fleet. The Navy has three remaining Bo-105 helicopters, a model that is being replaced with the Eurocopter Dauphin. The admiral said those procurement projects will span the next four years, which basically covers his term as head of the Navy. Interestingly, he did not mention another multi-role ship as a priority, even as he praised the current multi-role ship, the LSDH Sargento Aldea, for its relief work after the April 1 earthquake in the north of Chile. Reports have linked Chile to the possible sale by France of the Siroco, the sister ship of the Sargento Aldea.

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