September 28, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - USAF F-16s are participating in a joint strategic air exercise codenamed "Salitre". The exercise is held in Chile and involves more thant eighty aircrafts from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the USA and started last weekend.
Besides the Fighting Falcons from the US there are F-5s from Brazil, the Mirage 50, Mirage 5-M and F-5s from Chile
and Mirage III and V belonging to the Argentine Air Force. The aircraft are operating from Los Condores air base, situated in the area of Iquique, northern Chile, approximately 2,000 kilometres from Santiago.
Salitre 2004 is organized by the Chilean Air Force and simulates a low intensity conflict with air campaigns and two sides, Blue (coalition forces) and Red (opponent forces). The exercise
The purpose of the exercise, which ends on October 10, is to develop cooperation and relations between air forces of the different participating countries, sharing coalition forces common experiences.
Last year, Chile ordered 10 F-16 fighter jets from the United States. The construction of the first airplane began at the beginning of this year. The first flight is scheduled for June 2005 followed by flight trials at Edwards in August. The first two F-16s should then be transferred to Chile early 2006.