Monday, May 26, 2014
Sunday, May 18, 2014
|AP 46 Almirante Viel|
Thursday, May 15, 2014
For the second time in five months, an Air Force F-16 has crash landed. The latest accident occurred when a landing gear failure forced an emergency landing at the air base in Antofagasta. In October, another F-16 crash-landed when a tire blew on takeoff. And in March 2012, an F-16 had another landing-gear problem, resulting in a belly landing. All three mishaps involved the F-16 MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) version, bought second-hand from the Netherlands, and all occurred at the same air base. Landing gear problems have been known to trouble the F-16 fleet, especially the older planes such as the MLUs. But the damage from a belly landing is fixable, and there's been no losses yet among the 46 F-16s that FACh operates. But it is a problem that has affected just the MLUs, at least in recent memory. And whenever an air force shares a runway with a civilian airport, as is the case with all Chilean air force bases, problems spill over to airline operations. This month's accident caused a four-hour runway closure that delayed a few flights.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Leave it to Chile to warm up to Russia at a time when the West is cooling on Moscow. In the middle of the Ukraine crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov visited Chile, where his Chilean counterpart said the two countries plan to strengthen military ties. There's never been much of a military alliance between the two countries. Chile buys most of its weapons from western countries and has integrated itself well with NATO forces. Meanwhile, Russia's efforts to sell arms to Chile keep getting frustrated. In 2009, Chile's Air Force agreed to acquire five Mi-17 transport helicopters from Rosoboronexport, what would have been the first Chilean purchase of Russian equipment. But U.S. officials pressured Chile to back away from the $80 million purchase and to go with the U.S.-made (and much more expensive) Sikorsky Black Hawk instead. Eventually, Chile yielded and Peru ended up buying the five helicopters, though it never went forward with the Black Hawks. The crash of an Mi-17 during a demonstration flight at the 2002 Fidae air show didn't help Russia's marketing, either. But now, Chile is listening to Russia again. At this year's Fidae, talks restarted on a helicopter deal. The Army seems settled on Eurocopter's Cougar, but FACh is looking to add airlift capabilities. Despite the 2002 crash, FACh was satisfied with the Mi-17, which now looms as Russia's best chance to break into the Chilean market.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
While the Army's armaments manufacturer and Israel Military Industries are the main developers of Chile's new multiple launch rocket system, a third company is playing a key role in the program. Desarrollos de Automatizacion (DESA) is providing the fire control system for the SLM Famae. Unlike the other major defense companies in Chile, DESA is a private firm, and it's been involved in a number of electronic upgrades for the Army and Navy for more than 20 years. DESA started out in 1993, when it won a contract for a fire-control system for the Navy's SAAR-3 missile boats. Since then, it has built integrated combat, command and control, artillery fire direction and other systems. It also upgraded the Goalkeeper Close-In Weapon System used in some of Chile's frigates. Web searches turn up little about the company, yet its resume makes DESA perhaps the most advanced military contractor in Chile. Now, it has a stake in the country's top weapons program. The SLM Famae is a truck-mounted launcher that can accommodate any type of artillery rocket. Using rockets developed by IMI, the SLM Famae can hit targets 10 km to 150 km away within a 10-meter circle of error. DESA's fire-control system was practically tailor-made for the SLM Famae, a company executive told Defense News, but it can be used on any artillery rocket or self-propelled howitzer system.