F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Chilean Air Force head has sights on new jets

November 23, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The commander-in-chief of Chile's Air Force ruled out the acquisition of second-hand planes to upgrade the country's fighter fleet, demanding the government buy brand new jets.

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Patricio Rios told reporters that "under no circumstances" was the Air Force willing to accept used jet fighters to replace its aging U.S. -built A-37 attack aircraft which are used to support ground movements.

Rios' stance rubs directly against the plans of President Eduardo Frei, who told in an interview last week that the most likely option would be to buy refurbished second-hand planes because of budget restraints.

The original plan to buy new jet fighters is now considered by many to be beyond the current budget of the government and has become an issue in the run-up to presidential elections on Dec. 12, because unemployment is at a high of 11.4 percent.

Frei said in an interview last week that he will surely make a decision to upgrade the country's ailing Air Force fleet before he steps down in March, with second-hand equipment topping his list of options. "Originally, we thought about renovating the Air Force fleet with new planes, but looking at the budget parameters, we have suggested buying second-hand equipment, refurbished to bring it up date, " Frei said.