November 8, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Chile will buy 12 to 16 second-hand fighter jets from the United States or France because it cannot afford a squadron of new planes.
The Chilean Air Force (FACh
) was looking at purchasing used F-16s, made by Lockheed-Martin, or Mirage 2000-5s made by France's Dassault. However, the price tag would be $350 million instead of $650 million, which is beyond the means of the FACH. The decision will be taken early next year, before a new government takes office in March.
Chile announced in 1997 that it wanted to update its fighter force, but postponed the decision after the Asian crisis broke and the country slipped into recession this year. The original plan to buy new planes had to be shelved because the price tag was too high for the Chilean armed forces, which by law still receive 10 percent of the sales revenue of the state copper company CODELCO.
Boeing Co., maker of the more expensive and powerful F-18, also bid for the Chilean contract, as did Sweden's Saab AB with its JAS-39 Grippens in a joint export venture with British Aerospace Plc.
Chilean sources reported last week that Boeing had offered Chile a fleet of used F-18s for less than $200 million.