After a first batch of second-hand F-16s from the Netherlands, the Chilean Air Force decided to re-equip Grupo 7. The contacts with the Dutch government were good and since the Dutch were withdrawing some 18 more F-16s from their inventory due to budget reductions, the Chilean government expressed an interest to also acquire these airframes. Thus a second Grupo could be formed at Cerro Moreno and a standardised equipment on the same F-16 version could be accomplished.
In 2009 an agreement was reached with the Dutch government to buy these 18 surplus F-16s which were all upgraded with the MLU package. These aircraft have already received the M3 or M4 upgrade. This makes them almost on par with the new block 50 F-16s the FACh bought in an earlier agreement with the US.
FACh F-16AM #748
from Grupo 7 is ready on the runway waiting for the tower to give the go-ahead for take off at Santiago IAP on September 19th, 2012. [Photo by Lukas Kinneswenger]
Grupo 7 was flying the advanced version of the F-5E, dubbed 'Tiger III'. Since these aircraft have some years to go before retirement, they were relocated to Grupo 12. Late 2010 the first aircraft was delivered to the squadron, with the last aircraft arriving in the first half of 2011. Transition on the new type was very swift due to the experience build with Grupo 8. Since this order consisted off only A-models, Grupo 8 provided the necessary B-models to make the conversion happen.
The aircraft of Grupo 7 - as them from 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 #746
from Grupo 7 is taking off with dry military power at Santiago IAP on September 19th, 2012. [Photo by Lukas Kinneswenger]