The FACh was in urgent need for a new modern fighter to replace all of the vintage fighter aircraft it still had flying, being the F-5E, Mirage VM, Mirage 50, A-36, OA-37. After a competition between the F-16, JAS-39 and Mirage 2000/Rafale, a deal was signed to purchase 10 new F-16s in 2000.
Grupo 3 was earmarked to receive these brand-new jets. The squadron was re-activated and moved from its historical air base of Maquehue to Los Cóndores. The new F-16s did not directly replace a fighter type within the squadron, but it was possible to retire the entire Mirage fleet, which was becoming obsolete quickly. The first F-16 was delivered to the squadron in 2006 and integration within the squadron happened fairly swift.
FACh F-16C block 50 #851
is spotted here during a check flight. Note the special camouflage of the Chilean vipers. [LMTAS
The new F-16s have a multitude of tasks to perform since it is the most modern fighter in the Chilean inventory. This ranges from air defence to conventional attack. With more modern aircraft to be purchased in the future, more specific tasks will be outlined for these Vipers.
Since the FACh recently ordered another batch or Dutch F-16AM's, these aircraft are most probably used in advanced scenarios. They have advanced electronics in offensive warfare. Besides this, the two-seaters are equiped with a dorsal spine and have a missionised second cockpit with a Weapons System Officer (WSO) on board.
FACh F-16D block #859
photographed during its introduction. [FACh photo]