After a first batch of brand-new F-16s equipped Grupo 3, the Chilean government decided to purchase a batch of second-hand F-16s. This decision was made because of the financial down-turn the country experienced in the late nineties which made it impossible to buy more then 10 new aircraft.
In 2006 an agreement was reached with the Dutch government to buy 18 surplus F-16s which were all upgraded with the MLU package. This made them interchangeable with the new block 50 F-16s already in use with the FACh. These aircraft received the M2 upgrade. Further upgrades to M3 and/or M4 aren’t excluded, since these upgrades would bring the aircraft even closer to the capabilities of the newer block 50 F-16s.
FACh F-16BM #732
is spotted at the arrival ceremony on its new airbase B.A. Cerro Moreno in September of 2006. [Photo by Dutch MoD]
Since the Mirage V fleet was in urgent replacement, it was decided that Grupo 8 would receive the second-hand aircraft. In 2007 the first aircraft was delivered to the squadron, with the last aircraft arriving within 8 months. Transition on the new type was very swift due to the experience build with Grupo 3.
The aircraft of Grupo 8 retain their original ‘standard NATO’ colour scheme instead of the unique Chilean scheme applied to the block 50 F-16s of Grupo 3. The future will tell us whether these aircraft will receive the new colour scheme when a major overhaul of these aircraft is planned in a couple of years.
FACh F-16AM #730
is seen landing at SCL airport (Santiago) after a flypast as part of Air Force day at El Bosque AB on March 21st, 2007. [Photo by Andres Contador