Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Raft of Weapons Acquisitions Set

After months of relative quiet, Chile is opening up its wallet again for military hardware. Funds were authorized to start construction of two more offshore patrol vessels and for five more EADS CASA C-295 maritime reconnoisance airplanes. The army is buying more armor, including additional M-109 self-propelled howitzers, according to Periodismo en Linea. The air force is getting the first three of nine 3D radars for air-traffic control. Those are to be integrated with an air-defense missile system, the first elements of which are also being purchased. The acquisitions total $450 million, Periodismo en Linea said, and include a pending deal for 18 more F-16 fighters from the Netherlands.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leopard 1 Tanks Getting Upgrades

Maybe Chile's Leopard 1 fleet isn't going to pasture, after all. A Turkish company called Aselsen Elektronik Sanayi & Ticaret won a $150 million contract to modernize 100 tanks. News reports didn't mention which model was involved, but indications are that contract is for the older Leopard 1s. Aselsen offers the Volkan fire control system for the Leopard 1, which improves target acquisition, tracking and aiming. It also provides better night vision, and command and control features. Chile has acquired more than 200 Leopard 1 tanks. It sold 30 to Ecuador. Reports had said the entire Leopard 1 fleet was being retired.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Army Expels 2 in Soldier's Beating

Two corporals were thrown out of the army for the beating of a 17-year-old conscript. An investigation continues into the May 1 incident, in which the soldier was punched and kicked during an exercise. Abuse of conscripts is a longtime problem in the army, but one that must eradicated if the planned all-volunteer force is to be a success. Bad publicity like this doesn't do much to attract volunteers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Defense Chief May Have Fumbled F-16 Deal

Chile's defense minister is doing some backpedaling after prematurely announcing that a contract for 18 fighter jets was imminent. Once the remarks by Francisco Vidal came public, officials in Holland insisted the sale of the used F-16s was not a done deal, and other countries could still buy the planes. Vidal and air force commander Gen. Ricardo Ortega said the mess is just a misunderstanding. They just didn't realize that the Dutch parliament must be notified of the sale, and the U.S. government must clear the transfer. Still, some opposition leaders are calling for Vidal's head, especially if Chile ends up losing the deal. (Some sources told El Mercurio that Peru is one of the countries interested in the F-16s.) The $270 million contract is for surplus F-16s that have undergone modernizations, including an airframe upgrade. Included in the contract are spare engines, logistical support and training programs for the new planes plus another batch of F-16s acquired from Holland in 2006.