Chile Looking to Replace F-5s With More F-16s
13-Oct-2008 13:54 EDT
Mercopress reports that Chile is looking to replace its 16 upgraded F-5E/F+ Tiger II aircraft with more second-hand F-16s. The F-5+ are slated for decommissioning in 2009, and Chile’s existing F-16 fleet currently includes 10 advanced F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft, and another 18 F-16A/B Mid-Life Upgrade aircraft bought from the Netherlands for $180 million. Mercopress places Chile’s next buy at $170 million for 16 more F-16A/B MLU fighters from The Netherlands, to be delivered in 2009.
Chilean military equipment purchases are somewhat unusual, in that they are financed by a set percentage of windfall earnings from copper mining, one of Chile’s major exports. That legislation dates back to Chile’s military dictatorship, and is scheduled to be amended, but the fund created by that arrangement is expected to hit $3 billion in the coming months.
This is so despite a slew of purchases that are modernizing Chile’s armed forces, after a long slump in copper prices that had put a crimp in Chile’s options. The last decade has seen purchases of F-16s, handfuls of Bell 412 and Eurocopter AS535 Super Puma helicopters, a strong core of used Leopard tanks and accompanying Marder IFVs for the Army, plus 2 new Scorpene Class submarines, 8 used frigates, and 3 new C-295 MP maritime patrol aircraft for use along Chile’s long naval frontier. If the reports of a new F-16 order turn out to be correct, Chile will have ended up replacing its 16-24 recently-retired Mirage 50CN Panteras and 16 F-5+ with 44 F-16s.