Monday, May 10, 2021

Chile Replenishes its Hercules C-130 Fleet

 Chile's Air Force is adding two used Lockheed Hercules C-130H transport planes, thanks to a donation from the U.S. government. The first plane was delivered April 22 after serving with the Montana Air National Guard. The delivery came with a bonus: The plane was packed with Covid-19 relief supplies. Chile's Hercules have been used to transport Covid patients from remote locations, including Easter Island. The second Hercules is set for delivery in the next few months. The acquisition helps Chile recover the loss of a C-130 that crashed in the ocean in 2019, leaving all on board dead. That plane was a model H, the same as the newly acquired Hercules. Including the donated planes, Chile's Air Force operates four C-130H and three C-130R and a single C-130B. The latter is likely to be retired when the second Herc is delivered.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Navy Acquires New Helicopters, Picks Design for New Multipurpose Ships

Chile's Navy is getting deliveries of five H125 helicopters that will replace several Bell UH-57B Jet Rangers in service since the 1970s. Airbus Helicopters delivered the first H125 in December, with four more set for delivery by 2023, including two this year. Like the Jet Rangers they replace, the H125s are general purpose light helicopters suitable for missions such as patrol, search and rescue and pilot training. Separately, the Navy's Asmar shipyard awarded a contract to Canada's Vard Marine for the design of four new multipurpose ships. The company's Series 7 design will be adapted for Chile's requirements and will replace three old transport ships, including one (AP 41 Aquiles) that was also a Vard design. Asmar will build the Series 7 ships, which are equipped for logistic support, search and rescues, troop transport and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The Series 7 standard design measures 130 meters in length, holds a crew of 74, has an endurance of 30 days and maximum range of 8,000 nautical miles. The Series 7 class also has two helicopter landing pads, space for 300 troops and two landing craft.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

U.S. Approves Missile Sale to Chile's Navy

The U.S. State Department approved the sale of air-defense missiles to Chile in a deal valued at $85 million. The 16 Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA are destined for the Navy's two Adelaide-class frigates acquired from Australia last year, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The package includes MK 89 Mod 0 guidance sections, a target detection device kit, a maintenance facility, spare parts, training and technical data. Raytheon Missiles and Defense is the main contractor for the project. Chile's Navy acquired the frigates in a transfer from Australia's navy last May to replace a pair of aging Dutch-built frigates. The Adelaide-class warship are capable of carrying SM-2 missiles but apparently were not included in the transfer. The SM-2s, also known as RIM-66, have a maximum range of 90 nautical miles and are effective against aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The Block IIIA model includes radar seeker technologies, tail controls and solid rocket motors to defeat high-speed maneuvering threats, plus updated radar targeting and directional warheads.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Chile's Army has Latin America's Best Tanks, but Are They Vulnerable?

The backbone of Chile's Army is its three armored brigades, all equipped with Leopard 2 main battle tanks and supported by Marder infantry fighting vehicles and assorted other armor. The Leopards are armed with a 120 mm gun and decked with a number of upgrades added when they were purchased refurbished from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany. Its armor protection is among the best around. But the Leopard 2 has been shown to be vulnerable to anti-tank missiles. They are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). In one of the most significant combat tests, Turkey lost more than a dozen Leopard 2 and older M-60 tanks in Syria from 2016 to 2018. Kornet and other anti-tank guided missiles did the job. The losses forced Turkish military officials to rethink their use of armor and to adopt another defensive layer. That came in the form of active protection systems (APS), which can detect an incoming missile and take it down with their own missile. Turkey decided to equip its tanks with a Ukraine-made system. Israel is a pioneer in APS technology, with systems that have already been shown effective in battle. Facing no serious threat and no plans for deployment in world hotspots, APS are unlikely to be part of future upgrades for Chilean Leopards. The Army, it seems, is willing to accept the vulnerability for the time being.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Shooting Death of Police Officer Underscores Endless Indigenous Revolt

 A 24-year old police officer was slain in an ambush, the latest death in an extended conflict between extremists and carabineros in the south of Chile. A 23-year campaign by indigenous mapuche radicals to reclaim lost ancestral lands is seeing the most violent year so far. This year alone, five police officers have been killed in incidents attributed to mapuche gunmen. Earlier this year, the conflict impacted the whole nation when truckers went on strike for a week and blocked highways to pressure the government. Truckers complain the government is not doing enough to protect them from countless attacks. Mapuches' most common tactic is to burn trucks that belong to logging companies in the disputed territories, sometimes stopping trucks at gunpoint. The first attacks started in 1997, and have only worsened. Every president in that time has failed to bring the crisis under control, which remains one of Chile's biggest security problems. Government programs to buy back land for mapuches have done little to appease the movement's radical elements. Chileans this month voted to draft a new constitution, which may end up providing specific rights to indigenous peoples.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Covid-19 Forces Cancelation of Armed Forces Day Events

For the first time in at least 37 years, Chile's Armed Forces Day went quiet. The traditional military parade in Santiago and smaller ones in other cities were canceled as the nation continued to lock itself down to fight the coronavirus. The Army marked the occasion with a modest ceremony at its academy, with President Sebastian PiƱera and other officials in attendance. Masks and other precautions, of course, were plentiful. Chile's military was far from idle, however. Troops and marines continue to be deployed along the country to enforce curfews and other measures designed to combat the pandemic. Chile has one of the highest infection and mortality rates from Covid-19. Armed Forces Day is celebrated on Sept. 19, a day after Independence Day.