Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ex-Air Force Chief Jailed Over Payments

Former air force commander Ramon Vega was arrested on charges that he illegally took $2.9 million in public funds. The funds were commissions from a 1994 purchase of 25 used Mirage jets from Belgium. (See December 2007 post.) Three other retired officers also were held. The government's spokesman said all military acquisitions have been made "government to government" since the administration of Pres. Ricardo Lagos (2000-06). In other words, military leaders have made purchases with the consent of the government. It used to be that the armed forces made their own deals, with little oversight. But the military's reform has resulted in greater civilian authority over procurement matters.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tank Sale Bolsters Assistance to Ecuador

Chile sold 30 Leopard 1 tanks to Ecuador, the latest arms export to its South American partner. Each tank went for about $500,000, according to Strategypage.com. Chile is selling or retiring more than 200 Leopard 1s as it incorporates the more-capable Leopard 2 tanks into its armor batallions. The two countries have forged a growing military alliance, in which Chile has found a customer for surplus equipment and technology. Chile sold two used frigates to Ecuador's navy last year and is upgrading two of its submarines. Although well-worn, the Leopard 1 gives Ecuador a true main battle tank. It's a significant upgrade over the French-built AMX-13 light tank. The Leopard 1's 105 mm gun is equipped with an aim-stabilization system that keeps the gun locked on target even as the tank moves. Chile's Leopards were fitted with night-vision equipment and additional armor.