Chilean Air Force

Chilean Air Force
Chilean Air Force
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force.svg
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force
Founded March 21, 1930
Country Chile
Part of Chilean Armed Forces
Motto "Quam celerrime ad astra"
General del Aire (Air General) Jorge Rojas Avila
Roundel Chilean Air Force roundel.svg Roundel of Chile low visibility.svg
Roundel 1918-1930 Roundel of Chile 1918.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon
707 Cóndor AEW&C
Fighter Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon, Northrop F-5E Tiger III
Trainer T-35 Pillán, Super Tucano, T-36 Halcon
Transport UH-1H Huey, Bell 412EP, UH-60 Black Hawk, C-130 Hercules

The Chilean Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea de Chile, FACh) is the air force of Chile, a branch of the Chilean military.



The first step towards the current FACh was taken by Teniente Coronel Pedro Pablo Dartnell, when he founded the Servicio de Aviación Militar de Chile (Military Aviation Service of Chile) on December 20, 1910, being trained as a pilot in France. Although a school was included, the first officers were sent to France for their training as well. One of them, Captain Manuel Ávalos Prado, took command over the Chilean military aviation school that was officially instated 11 February 1913, and remained in command until 1915. The Escuela de Aviación Militar (Military Aviation School) was named in honor of him in 1944, and still carries that name today.

In those early years many aviation milestones were achieved; conquering the height of The Andes was one of the main targets as well as long distance flights. Typical aircraft of that era were Avro 504, Bleriot XI, Bristol M.1C, DH.9, and SE5a. In the following decade, the (Airmail Line of Chile) Línea Aeropostal de Chile was created on 5 March 1929 as a branch of the military aviation. This postal airline later developed into the airline Línea Aérea Nacional (National Airline) that is still the leading airline in Chile today. Shortly afterwards, on 21 March 1930, the existing aviation elements of the army and navy were amalgamated into a dedicated department: the Subsecretaria de Aviación (Department of the Air Force) effectively creating the current independent Air Force. It was initially named Fuerza Aérea Nacional(National Air Force). The international airport of Chile carries the name of Lan's founding father and first commander of the air force, Arturo Merino Benítez.

The first outlines of the organization of the current air force were visible in 1945 with the inception of Grupo de Transporte No.1 (First Transport Group), later renumbered Grupo 10, with two C-45s and a single T-6 Texan at Los Cerrillos. Two years later the first Fuerza Aérea flight to Antarctica was performed. The fifties meant entry into the jet age for the FACh, and Grupo 7 was the first unit to receive them in 1954. Chile got its aircraft from both the United States and Europe. The American supply consisted of Lockheed F-80, Lockheed T-33, Beech T-34 Mentor, Cessna T-37, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly and Northrop F-5E/F for example, whereas the British supplied Hawker Hunters and the French delivered various helicopters and Dassault Mirage 50 aircraft.

The Chilean air force hosted the joint exercise Salitre with other friendly nations.


Ranks of the Chilean Air Force

Ranks and insignia, similar to the Royal Air Force but adapted to suit the origins of the Chilean Air Force, are worn on shoulder collars and cuffs. General officers have the Condor eagle in their shoulder collars while officer cadets have a unique symbol, that of the Aviation School "Captain Manuel Avalos Prado", on their shoulder collars. On the NCOs and enlistees, only Subofficer Majors and Subofficers wear both shoulder and cuff insignia, while Graduate Soldiers wear a double capital letter E (for the Air Force Specialties School "First Sergeant Adolfo Menandier Rojas") on their shoulder collars alongside their unique cuff marking.

Officer Ranks (SS.OO.)

The officer ranking system and insignia are similar to the RAF pattern of ranks, save for the General officer ranks, modified to suit the British style ranks, and the Colonel rank.[1] Other ranks with foreign influences are that of Air Brigade General, a general officer rank in the French Air Force, and Air General, a general officer rank in the Spanish Air Force.

Rank[2] General Officer Superior Officer Chief Officer Junior Officer Cadet Officer
Badge Genaire fach.gif Genav fach.gif GenBA fach.gif Fach cav.gif Fach cgru.gif Fach escu.gif Fach cap.gif Fach tte.gif Fach st.gif Fach alf.gif FACH Cadete.png
Sleeve General del Aire (FACH).png General de Aviación (FACH).png General de Brigada Aérea (FACH).png SS.OO.4 - Coronel de Aviación (M).png Comandante de Grupo (FACH).png Comandante de Escuadrilla (FACH).png Capitán de Bandada (FACH).png Teniente (FACH).png Subteniente (FACH).png Alférez (FACH).png -
Rank General del Aire General de Aviación General de Brigada Aérea Comodoro Coronel de Aviación Comandante de Grupo Comandante de Escuadrilla Capitán de Bandada Teniente Subteniente Alférez Cadete
Abbreviation (C.J.) (G.D.A.) (G.B.A.) (-) (C.D.A.) (C.D.G.) (C.D.E.) (C.D.B.) (TTE.) (STE.) (ALF.) -
Translation Air General General of Aviation Air Brigade General Commodore Colonel of Aviation Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sub-Lieutenant Ensign Cadet Officer
Equivalent Air Chief Marshal Air Marshal Air Vice-Marshal Air Commodore
(optional rank for senior Group Captains)
Group Captain Wing Commander Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant Flying Officer Pilot Officer Acting Pilot Officer Officer Cadet


Noncommissioned and Enlisted Ranks [4]

Rank Subofficer Major Subofficer Class Student Conscripted Soldier
Badge Submayor fach.gif PCP.2 - Suboficial (hombro 1).png FACH Sargento 1°(hombro).png - - - - FACH Alumno (hombro).png -
Sleeve Suboficial Mayor (FACH).png Subo fach.gif Sargen1 fach.gif Sargen2 fach.gif Cabo1 fach.gif Cabo2 fach.gif Cabo fach.gif FACh Alumno (brazo).png -
Rank Suboficial Mayor Suboficial Sargento 1° Sargento 2° Cabo 1° Cabo 2° Cabo Alumno Soldado conscripto
Abbreviation (SOM) (SOF) (SG1) (SG2) (CBO1) (CBO2) (CBO) - -
Translation Sub-officer Major Sub-officer First Sergeant Second Sergeant First Corporal Second Corporal Corporal Student Conscripted Soldier
Equivalent Warrant Officer Class I Warrant Officer Class II Flight Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Senior Aircraftman (Air Groups and Topography Service),
Lance Corporal(Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment and Personnel Command)
Leading Aircraftman Student Aircraftman


Chile also maintains its own aviation industry, ENAER. The design of the T-35 Pillan trainer, based on the Piper PA-28 Dakota, is the best known example, seeing some export success as well. Furthermore, the assembly of the A-36/T-36 Halcon (CASA C-101) was achieved as well. Performing maintenance on most types in the current inventory, such as minor modifications on F-5E aircraft for example, the industry is of significant importance to the air force. ENAER is reported to be in talks with Embraer of Brazil to codesign the first indigenous South American military transport plane.

Future Programmes

F-16 Fighting Falcon
A Chilean Boeing 707 with a Phalcon radar fitted to its nose and sides
Elbit Hermes 900 UAV
The first Chilean KC-135E at Santiago, in February 2010.

The delivery of ten new F-16 (6 of C model and 4 of D model) (block 50+) Peace Puma aircraft from the United States to Chile kicks off a promising era of interoperability between the two nations. The 10 aircraft sale, munitions and maintenance—all part of the “Peace Puma” program—is worth $900 million.[5]

The U.S. Air Force worked with the Chilean Government, the Chilean Air Force and the defense contractor to broker the aircraft sale as the latest improvement in the long-term relationship between the two nations’ air forces, said Bruce Lemkin, U.S. Air Force deputy undersecretary for international affairs.

Included in the purchase are joint direct attack munitions, or JDAMs, AIM-9 heat-seeking missiles, AGM-65 Mavericks and advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAMs. The FACh F-16s can also operate Israeli-made Derby and Python IV air-to-air missiles carried by the Chilean Air Force (FACh) F-5E/F Tiger III fleet.

The U.S. Air Force conducted F-16 flying training with Chilean pilots. In addition, “train-the-trainer” instruction enabled the Chileans to train their own pilots. The U.S. Air Force and contractor also provided maintenance training.

“These are state-of-the-art aircraft and will provide great capability for Chile, and will also provide interoperability with us. These are the same airplanes the U.S. Air Force flies,” he said. “These F-16s will become the centerpiece of a 30-year or more relationship between the U.S. Air Force and the Chilean Air Force.”

The long-term relationship comes not only from operating common hardware, but also from the experiences of Airmen working together throughout their careers, Mr. Lemkin said.

“We will be training together, operating together, flying together and learning from one another,” Mr. Lemkin said. “There is no substitute for the relationship that results when a captain from the Chilean Air Force is in F-16 training with a captain from the U.S. Air Force, and 20 years later they are both generals. That becomes the most essential element of an air force to air force relationship -- the human element.”

Together with the purchase of brand new F-16s, the Air Force has recently purchased 18 refurbished (MLU program) F-16 block 20 (11 F-16As and 7/F-16Bs) from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. These aircraft have been recently upgraded to F-16 MLU standard and have more in common in equipment and capabilities to the F-16C Block 50s.

a second batch of 18 F-16 MLU T4 (2 for spares) was recently acquired from the Royal Netherlands Air Force to complete 44 F-16.

Recently Chile issued an RFP for new generation helicopter. The contract was awarded to Bell Textron Helicopters Inc. for 12 new Bell 412 helicopters.[6][7] In July 2011, Elbit Systems reported the first export sale of its Hermes 900 UAV to the Chilean Air Force. The Chilean choice followed evaluation of two classes of UAVs. At the high end were the Elbit Hermes 900 and IAI Heron. At the lower (tactical) level were Elbit Hermes 450, and Aerostar from Aeronautics Defense Systems.

The 2015 Chile's air force must decommission the F-5, among the possible candidates to replace tigers are the EF-2000 or MLU F-16.

Order of Battle

Personnel = 10,600 (including 700 conscripts)

Office of the Commander in Chief, Chilean Air Force

Combat Command of the Air Force

First Air Brigade with headquarters in Air Base "Los Cóndores" (Base Aérea "Los Cóndores") in Iquique

  • 1st Aviation Group
  • 2nd Aviation Group
  • 3rd Aviation Group
  • 24th Air Defense Group
  • 31st Electronic Detection Group

Second Aviation Brigade with headquarters in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Aeropuerto Arturo Merino Benítez) in Santiago

  • 9th Aviation Group
  • 10th Aviation Group
  • Air Defence Artillery and Special Forces Regiment (Regimiento de Artillería Antiaérea y FF.EE)
  • Aerial Photography Group
  • High Acrobatics Squad "Halcones" (Escuadrilla de Alta Acrobacia "Halcones")

Third Aviation Brigade with headquarters in Air Base "El Tepual" (Base Aérea "El Tepual") in Puerto Montt

  • 5th Aviation Group
  • 25th Air Defense Group
  • 31st Electronic Detection Group

Fourth Air Brigade with headquarters in Air Base "Chabunco" (Base Aérea "Chabunco") in Punta Arenas

  • 4th Aviation Group
  • 6th Aviation Group
  • 12th Aviation Group
  • 23rd Air Defense Group
  • 33rd Electronic Detection Group
  • 19th Antarctic Exploration Group

Fifth Air Brigade with headquarters in Air Base "Cerro Moreno" (Base Aérea "Cerro Moreno") in Antofagasta

  • 7th Aviation Group
  • 8th Aviation Group
  • 21st Air Defense Group
  • 34th Electronic Detection Group

Personnel Command

Education Division

  • Aviation School "Captain Manuel Avalos Prado"
  • Air Specialties School "Flight Sergeant Adolfo Menadier Rojas"
  • Sub-officers Perfection School
  • Air War Academy
  • Polytechnic Aeronautical Academy

Health Division
General Hospital of the Air Force
Air Force High Command Prefecture

Logistics Command

Maintenance Division
Infrastructure Division

Current inventory


Associated Press

Aircraft Origin Type Service versions Total[8] Photos
Fighter aircraft
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon  United States/ Netherlands Multirole combat aircraft 36 F-16 AM/BM MLU
10 F-16 C/D 50/52 plus
Northrop F-5E Tiger III  United States Interceptor aircraft F5 Tiger III Plus 16
A-36 Hawk  Spain
Ground-attack aircraft 9 C-101CC
8 C-101BB
Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano  Brazil Light Attack A-29B Super Tucano 12
Super-Tucano Ecuador.jpg
ENAER T-35 Pillán  Chile basic trainer 18 T-35A
15 T-35B
ENAER T-35 Pillan formation.jpg
Military transport aircraft
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Military transport aircraft 2 C-130H
1 C-130B
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Medium transport aircraft DHC-6 Twin Otter 13
Chilean DHC-6 Twin Otter in flight 1990.JPEG
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Medium transport aircraft CASA 212-400 Aviocar 3
Cessna Citation  United States Transport VIP Cessna 525 Citationjet (CJ1) 3
Citation V EdA.JPG
Boeing 767  United States Cargo aircraft Boeing 767-300ER 1
Boeing 767-316-ER - LAN Ecuador - HC-CIZ - 02.jpg
Gulfstream IV  United States Transport VIP Gulfstream III/IV 1
Gulfstream G-400.jpg
Boeing 737 Classic  United States Cargo aircraft Boeing 737 2
Beechcraft Model 99  United States Transport VIP 2 Beech 99 Petrel A
2 Beech 99 Petrel B
3 Beech 99A
Jamaica Air Shuttle In Flight.jpg
Cessna O-2 Skymaster  United States Observation aircraft O-2A Skymaster 6
O-2 Skymaster-1.jpg
Boeing 707 Phalcon"Condor"  United States/ Israel Airborne early warning and control EC-707 Cóndor 1
Aerial refueling
KC-135 Stratotanker  United States Aerial refueling KC-135E 3
Military aircraft of Chile during a parade.jpg
KC-707 Águila  United States Aerial refueling KC-707 1
Santiagopolis 084.jpg
Extra 300  Germany Aerobatics Extra 300L 5 Halcones fidae 2006 1.jpg
Military helicopter
Bell UH-1 Iroquois  United States Utility helicopter UH-1H Iroquois 14 JGSDF UH-1H(front) (recortada).jpg
Bell 412  United States Utility helicopter Bell 412EP 16 Bell 412 Armada de Chile .jpg
UH-60 Black Hawk  United States Transport helicopters Sikorsky S-70A Blackhawk 1 Blackhawk.jpg
Bell 206  United States Helicóptero utilitario Bell 206B JetRanger 3 Chc bell 206.jpg
MBB Bo 105  Germany Utility helicopter MBB Bo-105CB 1 Bölkow Bo 105 (aka).jpg
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Elbit Hermes 900  Israel Unmanned aerial vehicle Hermes 900 3
Elbit Hermes 900s.JPG



External links

Flag of Chile.svg
Chilean Armed Forces
Coat of arms of Chile.svg
Coat of arms of the Chilean Army.svg Ejército de Chile (Army)   Coat of arms of the Chilean Navy.svg Armada de Chile (Navy)   Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force.svg Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Air Force)  

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