Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Ex Army Commander Faces Trial for Money Laundering

Retired Gen. Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba goes to court May 30 to face charges that he laundered state funds to cover personal expenses. The sums involved total about 700 million pesos, or about $1 million U.S. dollars. Prosecutors believe Fuente-Alba used Army funds while he was the top commander to pay for relatives' travel and for other personal expenses. He is also accused of making payments to certain Army personnel who were close to him. The case is one of many corruption scandals that have shaken Chilean government and business in the past several years. The Army saw many of its Pinochet-era officers convicted of human rights violations, and there wasn't much controversy among the top brass until the corruption cases started emerging. Fuente-Alba is one of three former Army commanders facing charges. Gen. Humberto Oviedo, who led the Army in 2014-2018, also is being investigated for using funds to pay for family travel. Gen. Juan Emilio Cheyre was convicted in a case that echoed back to the human rights era. As a recent graduate of the military academy at the time, Cheyre accompanied officers who took part in the killing of 10 persons following the 1973 coup. Sentenced to three years of probation for covering up the crimes, Cheyre was soon indicted for a series of abuses. He denies those charges.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Chile's Navy Signs Up for Two More Dutch Frigates

Chile's Navy is taking early steps to acquire two Class M frigates from the Netherlands, as the Navy looks to replace some of its older warships. The Navy signed a letter of intent to acquire the Van Amstel and Van Speijk once those ships are retired from Dutch service, reports say. The Van Amstel could be transferred in 2024 and the Van Speijk in 2027. The acquisition means Chile would own half of the Class M frigates ever built, having already purchased a pair of Class M ships in 2004 from the Netherlands. Chile is looking to replace two Class L frigates that were part of the acquisition of the Class M ships. The L frigates are air defense ships, and their retirement would leave the Armada without a platform for long-range anti-aircraft missiles.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

7 Years After Acquisition, Chile's Hermes UAV Finally Goes Public

For the first time since they were acquired, Chile's Air Force has put one of its Hermes 900 on public display, ending a seven-year period in which the high-altitude UAV was kept shrouded. FACh this month showed off a Hermes 900 in a display of aircraft tasked to fight wildfires. The UAV is equipped with an electronics payload to monitor burn areas and relay information to command posts to coordinate firefighting efforts. The Hermes on display was also equipped with a dorsal antenna for satellite links. FACh is also using transport planes and helicopters to ferry firefighting units, and at least one UH-1H Huey helicopter has been fitted with a water bucket. Chile confirmed the purchase of the Hermes 900 in 2011, but had kept it out of public view. FACh acquired from Israel's Elbit Systems three UAVs and support equipment in what was its first purchase of high-performance UAVs. Hermes 900 can fly to a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet and can stay aloft for as much as 26 hours. Other branches of Chile's military also are providing assistance to fight brush fires.