Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chile Passes on 2nd Multirole Ship, Retires Missile Boats

The Navy has retired its Type 148 Tiger missile boats, which had been stationed in the northern naval base in Iquique. Two had already been deleted and the remaining two were retired Dec. 15, according to InfoDefensa. Although the Navy made no formal announcement, its website no longer lists the Tiger Type 148s in its fleet. The missile boats had limited range and endurance, but served as capable coastal defense units with their four Exocet anti-ship missiles and 76mm gun. The boats were acquired second-hand from Germany in 1997. There are no plans to replace them, InfoDefensa says. That would make it three Navy vessels retired from service in two months, including the pending deletion of the submarine tender Almirante Merino in January. Moreover, the government decided not to acquire a second multirole ship. The Navy had sought the sister ship of the ex-French Foudre, which Chile acquired in 2011. But the government cited the high cost and questioned the need for another such vessel, despite that Chile's ship has served a valuable relief role in natural disasters and as an auxiliary hospital. Indeed, InfoDefensa notes that the vast modernization of Chile's military is drawing to an end. The Army and Air Force have shelved plans to acquire medium transport aircraft, and FACh also is putting off the acquisition of higher-performance helicopters. The government still wants to end the tax on Codelco's sales to finance defense deals, and it has left funds from that tax unspent. Even while the budget proposal remains stuck in Congress, the fact remains that military acquisitions have slowed sharply in the past few years.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chile's Military Tries to Bury its Junta Legacy

Long ago, Chile's armed forces moved on from their past as the country's rulers. Now, they seem to be wiping away any remaining memories of that era. The Army deleted the name of Gen. Agusto Pinochet from a medal. The Navy is retiring in January a submarine tender that was named after Adm. José Toribio Merino Castro, the Navy chief who was part of the junta that overthrew President Salvador Allende in 1973. Don't expect another ship to bear that name in the future, said Defense Minister Jorge Burgos. There's been public pressure to eliminate reminders of the junta from other places, such as street names. Burgos denied that the retirement of the sub tender had anything to do with politics. As far as the impact on the Navy goes, there are no plans to acquire a replacement, and other vessels such as offshore patrol boats or the multirole ship Sargento Aldea will take over its role. Tenders are used to resupply submarines out at sea and to give the sub crews some breathing space. The Almirante Merino was acquired from Sweden in 1997. It was launched in 1969, originally built as a mine layer.