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Chile Nixes Jet Purchases, May Be Eyeing F-16 Upgrade

Apr. 11, 2013 - 07:11PM   |  
By ANDREW CHUTER   |   Comments
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RIO DE JANEIRO — The Chilean air force has scrapped a planned buy of advanced jet trainers according to sources in Latin America.

The Ministry of Defence in Santiago informed interested companies last month that it was shelving the scheme to replace its aged fleet of Spanish-built A/T 36 jets for budget reasons.

Alenia Aermacchi’s M346, the BAE Systems Hawk and Korean Aerospace with the T-50 are thought to have been the prime candidates for a procurement which was still in its early stages.

A source at Alenia Aermacchi said the company had received informal notification

Around a dozen aircraft were expected to be purchased to replace T36’s which are increasing difficult to maintain and fail to provide the quality of training required to match the Lockheed Martin F-16 fast jet fleet.

One analyst here said the decision to shelve the buy have taken been taken to allow the air force to focus funds on the F-16. A delay might also allow the Chileans to see what the U.S. does in its jet training competition.

The three companies which had been lining up to bid for the Chile deal are also the front runners in the U.S. Air Force TX competition.

A Lockheed Martin official at the LAAD defense and security show in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday confirmed the contractor was in discussion with Chile about an upgrade to the F-16 but would not comment beyond that.

Tom Kington contributed to this report.

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