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Six Chilean F-16 MLUs arrive at their new base

September 11, 2006 (by Asif Shamim) - Friday 8th September saw the arrival of the first batch of 6 Chilean F-16 MLU jets from the Netherlands at the new Cerro Moreno Air Base.

The President of the Chilean Republic, Michelle Bachelet, attends the ceremony of the official handover of the Dutch F-16s (#732) at Brown Hill AB, Antofagasta. [Photo by the Chilean Presidents press office]

In attendance representing the Government of Chile was President Michelle Bachelet Jeria, accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Vivianne Blanlot Soza and Commander-in-Chief Saravia Vilches.

The six FACh F-16s will be integrated into Air Group No 8, part of 5 Aerial Brigade. They will replace the existing Mirage M5 "Elkan" which have reached their end life with the FACh. A further batch of 6 F-16s will arrive in March of 2007 according to General Saravia.

In preparation for the receipt of the F-16 MLU aircraft, pilots and technicians attended 10 months of training in Holland with the Dutch Air Force to get them qualified on the latest hardware arriving in the FACh inventory.

The Commander-in-Chief of the V Aerial Brigade, Aerial Brigadier General (a) Wolfram Celedon indicated that "The arrival of the new weapon system to this Brigade constitutes a great responsibility from the point of view of the unit command, but also of the personnel and officials, because the potential that the aircraft have required an important effort, putting us to the height of the expectations of our country, to operate in the most effective and efficient form".

Personnel from the RNlAF has arrived at 'Brown Hill' to assist with the roll out of the F-16s. This consists of one pilot and eleven technical staff members. As a result of this first delivery of equipment and assistance the official contract between Chile and Holland could be signed. The papers being signed by commander of the Rear command, General Javier Anabalon and the chief of a main directorate of Defensive material of the Dutch Ministry of Defence Dirk Van Dord.