F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Officials say current US situation will not affect Chile's F-16 purchase

November 29, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The US military deployment following the attacks on New Your and Washington will not affect the purchase of 10 Lockheed F-16 combat airplanes by the Chilean Air Force (FACh).

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Government and Air Forces sources confirmed this and recalled that the FACh is currently analyzing the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) that the US Department of Defense sent at the beginning of September.

During this period, the FACh negotiators will decide which of the combat systems authorized by the US Congress will be purchased along with the F-16. Afterward, they will determine the total cost and the payment conditions. The final report will then be handed over to President Ricardo Lagos for approval.

The AMRAAM medium range missiles, similar to the ones that the Peruvian Air Force has, will not be included on the list, and, according to what Minister Mario Fernandez has said, they will not be requested in the future, either.

Chile's determination not to do so is not only a political decision, but a financial one. The cost of the 10 new state-of-the-art airplanes will climb close to $680 million, which will result in the FACh committing all its financial resources for approximately 10 years. Thus, it will not be able to purchase that kind of missile.

An Amraam (AIM-120) costs approximately $350,000, while its Israeli made equivalent, the Derby, costs $750,000 and the French Mica is close to $1 million.

These financial restrictions will also prevent the purchase of two tanker airplanes.

According to defense sources, the main problem for the purchase of the F-16s does not lie in the procurement process, nor in the special situation that the United States is experiencing at the moment. Instead, the economic problems that Chile is facing are threatening the process.

Regarding this issue, it was learned that the defense budget for next year will be the same as in 2001, and, in principle, it will not include extra subsidies to finance the fuel price increases of the last few