Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to be a Professional Soldier in Chile

The Army is putting out its annual call for young men who want to become professional soldiers. It's a five-year commitment, with not only a paycheck but the opportunity to learn a trade, get free housing and health care and, after three years, the chance to apply to become a noncommissioned officer. With unemployment among young adults running high in Chile, the 7,000 openings are likely to fill up. But there are stringent (if not curious) requirements. Women cannot apply for the program, although they can enlist and even become officers under other programs. Applicants must be single, have no children, be 18 to 25 years old and be in good health. In addition, applicants must pass a physical, a mental evaluation, a 2,400-meter run and pass other tests. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Chile's Military is Buying from the U.S.

Although Chile has little transparency in military expenditures, there are plenty of details publicly available from U.S. defense agencies that provide arms to allied nations. The database of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency is particularly enlightening. It is packed with information about every request and delivery of surplus equipment sent to Chile in the past 20 years. The database is not complete, however. For example, it shows only one KC-135 tanker aircraft delivered to Chile, when in fact three have been transferred. It doesn't show the delivery of the former USS Higgins tanker ship. It's also unclear if the costs shown are actual figures because transfers often are made at discounted prices. Here are some of the most noteworthy items from the database:

  • Of 24 M109A5 self-propelled howitzers requested, half are shown as delivered.
  • Chile last year requested antennas and other equipment for the APG-66 radar (used in the F-16 fighter) but no deliveries are registered.
  • A total of 44 M163A2 Vulcan self-propelled anti-aircraft cannon and 66 M167A2 towed Vulcan systems were delivered in 1998.
  • A KC-130R Hercules tanker plane was sought in 2012 but not delivered.
  • Most transfers occurred in the 1990s, much less in the decades that followed.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chile OK's Construction of 4th Off-Shore Patrol Vessel

Marinero Fuentealba
The Navy will build a fourth off-shore patrol vessel, just as the third was launched. Defense Minister Jorge Burgos confirmed the acquisition Nov. 6, noting that will be the fourth OPV in a program that envisions as many as five such vessels. Two of the Fassmer OPV 80-class boats are already in service. The third was launched the same day of Burgos' announcement. The Marinero Fuentealba is a bit different than its sister ships, sporting a larger 76mm gun and a reinforced hull for operation in the icy waters of the south of Chile. OPV 81 Piloto Pardo went into service in 2007 and OPV 82 Comandante Toro in 2009. With a crew of 32 and endurance of up to 30 days, the 1,700-ton ships are an efficient way for Chile's Navy to cover its extensive territorial waters. Each also has equipment for environmental and search and rescue missions. The program has been one of the most successful for Asmar, the Navy-operated shipyard that is getting back on its feet after getting decimated in the February 2010 tsunami.