Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FIDAE Update: Aircraft Upgrades, New Rocket System, Galils and Cougars for Army

The FIDAE air show is going on in Santiago this week, and several upgrade programs and acquisitions have been announced, many of them for the Army:
  • The Army has finally decided on a new standard assault rifle: the Galil ACE 5.56 mm built by Israel Weapon Industries. The Galil rifles will be assembled by the Army-operated Famae armament company, which also will manufacture some of the parts.
  • Famae introduced a mobile multiple launch rocket system. The SLM has been developed with Israel's IMI, which makes the Lynx MLRS. The project is a surprise for Famae, which developed an MLRS with Britain's Royal Ordnance more than 10 years ago, only to abandon it for lack of demand.
  • The Army accepted delivery of the first Cougar AS532 ALe, the newest version of Eurocopter's medium helicopter. Defense News reported the Army could receive at least 20 AS532 helicopters under current plans. The report is a sign the Army has finalized plans to bolster its airlift capabilities, including the formation of a new air cavalry brigade. The older Puma and Super Puma helicopters are being removed from service.
  • U.S.-based Merex Group has signed an contract to rebuild the wings of the F-5 Tiger III fighter planes operated by FACh. Air Force-owned Enaer will be a partner in the project. The program indicates that FACh will not be retiring the F-5 squadron any time soon, as had been speculated.
  • Airbus and Enaer are expanding their cooperation agreement to include maintenance of Airbus-built transport planes, including the C-295 and C-212. Under the new agreement, Airbus will provide additional support for maintenance and a potential upgrade of the FACh T-36 and A-36 Halcon trainers and light-attack aircraft. Chile's Army and Navy have retired their C-212 planes, but FACh still operates a few. Other South American countries also have C-212s.
  • Russia, which has never made a military sale in Chile, is campaigning to end the dryspell. Rosoboronexport is renewing negotiations for the sale of helicopters to Chile. Talks on a potential purchase ended in February 2010, when the earthquake and tsunami forced Chile to change its fiscal priorities, according to Rianovosti.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Article Details Chile's Military Aircraft

A Defensa.com article on Chile's aviation assets provides a few updates. One is that the Navy has retired the C 212-100 light transport planes and the Cessna O-2 Skymaster light patrol aircraft. The Army also has retired its C 212 planes. And the Air Force (FACh) may be doing yet another update to its aged F-5 fighter planes. More valuable, though, is the breakdown of the aviation fleets of the Air Force, Army and Navy. Here's the FACh order or battle, which agrees with other reports about the FACh inventory. Check the link above for the Army and Navy tables.

Combat aircraft
10 F-16 Block 50
36 F-16 AM/BM MLU
13 AT-36 Toqui II
12 F-5 E/F Tiger III

Transport and reconnaissance
3 KC-135 E Stratotanker
1 737-300
1 737-58N
1 767-300ER
3 C-130 B/H
13 DHC-6
3 C212-200, -300
1 A100 King Air
1 Super King Air
2 Learjet 35A
1 Gulfstream IV
7 PA-28-236

Training
24 T-35 Pillan
4 Citation CJ1
12 A-29 Super Tucano
6 AT-36 Halcón
2 Cirrus SR-22T

Airborne early warning and electronic warfare
1 707-385C Cóndor.

Helicopters
15 UH-1H
1 UH-60
13 Bell 412EP
5 206B Jet Ranger III

Air defense
GDF-005/007 2x35 mm cannon with FCS Sky Guard III fire control radar
Mistral missiles, some on Aspic launchers
Vulcan M-163 self-propelled, M-167 towed systems 

Acrobatic team
5 Extra 300

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mapuche Fighters Display Effective Tactics

Seven police officers were hurt in an ambush as they moved to clear a group of about 40 masked men who had taken over a ranch. The assailants, believed to be extremist Mapuche activists, fired shotguns and other weapons at police, wounding the officers. The gunmen fled, and Carabineros were not able to make any arrests. The March 4 hit-and-run attack was just one of several that Mapuche fighters have carried out with success. Their tactics show a growing sophistication, and at the same time authorities seem to be one step behind. The region's police commander is asking for armored vehicles, which would afford Carabineros with a better way to pursue guerrilla fighters and defend against ambush. Already, more officers and a surveillance plane have been moved in to support the heavily fortified police station in the community of Ercilla. Violence in the southern Chilean region escalated after a Mapuche man was convicted in the arson deaths of an elderly couple. It was a rare court victory for authorities, who also haven't had much success prosecuting suspects. Many have walked away free. In August, for example, a dozen Mapuches held more than a year for an arson attack on a bus were acquitted.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Is Chile Bailing Out on Embraer's KC-390 Cargo Plane?

Since early in the development of the KC-390, Chile's Air Force has expressed interest in not just acquiring a few of the transport planes but also in being a manufacturing partner. But now, a report says Chile is shifting its attention to alternatives from Airbus. FACh is specifically eyeing the C-295 for a potential order of four to six medium transport planes, and the A400M to replace FACh's C-130 Hercules, according to InfoDefensa. Six A400Ms could be purchased. Chile had signed an intent to purchase as many as a half-dozen KC-390 planes from Brazil's Embraer, but the accord does not amount to a firm order, InfoDefensa added. Sources quoted in the article say Chile remains interested in buying the KC-390 but has backed out of being a partner in the program. Ironically, Chile had signed a preliminary deal for the A400 several years ago, only to withdraw later over questions about a partnership with Chile's state-owned aerospace company. FACh operates three aged C-130s and the plans to replace them have been murky and shifting. For example, last year the head of the Air Force announced the purchase of two used C-130s, but there's been no details since then. The Army is seeking its own tactical transport aircraft deal and is considering the Airbus C-295 as well. Its maritime patrol version is already in service with the Navy.