Saturday, December 8, 2012

Army's First UAV Takes Flight

The Army has conducted the first test flights of a new unmanned aerial vehicle, its first domestically produced UAV. The Lascar UAV is a two-engine aircraft with an optics payload that can be used for reconnaissance missions and to monitor brush fires and other natural disasters. Little else is known about the UAV, which has been in development since 2008 under a partnership with the Universidad de Concepcion and private companies. The Lascar is not the only UAV produced in Chile. The Navy has been developing the Mantarraya UAV. The projects are a reminder that Chile has fully embraced UAVs and is determined to build up its inventory of such aircraft. Already, the Air Force has acquired the Hermes 900 long-endurance UAV,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chile Moves on Attack Helicopter, Jet Trainer Acquisitions

Boeing AH-6i
The Army is evaluating three types of light attack helicopters as it tries to fill one of the final gaps of its combat modernization. The models under consideration are the Eurocopter EC 635, the Bell 407 AH and the Boeing AH-6i, according to Defense Market Intelligence. The AH-6i begins trials this month in Chile. The Army has extensive experience operating a forerunner of the AH-6i, the MD 530, which the Army is seeking to replace as its standard scout helicopter. Eurocopter should be considered a strong contender, too, given its prior sales to the Army and Navy. All three models under review would have greater weapons capabilities than the MD 530 plus electronics and optical equipment. The Army has upgraded its armor, artillery, infantry, logistics and engineer units, leaving air defense and attack helicopters as the final pieces of its modernization strategy. Meanwhile, the Air Force is getting more serious about acquiring a batch of advanced trainers. FACh is expected to issue a request for information from various manufacturers by year end, according to Jane's Defence Weekly. A formal request for proposals would follow in 2013, with a selection later that year and deliveries starting in 2016. FACh is seeking to replace its fleet of A/T-36 planes, which have become costly to operate. An analysis in the blog Noticias FFAA Chile says the planes under possible consideration include the M-346 from Alenia Aermacchi, the T-50 from Korea Aerospace Industries, the AI-63 Pampa II built in Argentina, the Yakovlev YAK-130, the Hawk LIFT from BAE Systems and L-15 from China's Hongdu Aviation Industry. Alenia Aermacchi might have an edge in the competition because the company and FACh's Enaer agreed in 2008 to jointly market the M-346 and the M-311 in Latin America.