A Chilean Army commando marches during an independence day parade. The service has selected a new standard assault rifle. (Agence France-Presse)
SANTIAGO — The Chilean Army has selected the Galil ACE from Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) in 5.56mm caliber as its new standard assault rifle, military sources told Defense News during the FIDAE international aerospace show.
It brings to an end the protracted Project Titanio launched in 2007 to select and procure an assault rifle for both the Army and the Navy’s Marine Corps.
A selection team including experts from both services evaluated weapons but preferences and requirements were divergent.
The marines wanted a rifle able to stand prolonged service under extreme environmental conditions in different geographical arenas, including maritime, desert and semi-arctic conditions.
The Army favored the 556 rifle from Swiss maker SIG Sauer, for reasons including familiarity with previous models, including SIG’s 510 and 540, which were procured and partially manufactured locally by Fábricas and Maestranzas del Ejército (FAMAE), a state-owned firm under Army administration.
Since no agreement was possible, the marines dropped out of the Titanio project in 2011, and the Navy subsequently ordered the SCAR-L from Belgium’s Herstal in 2013
Meanwhile, in 2010, FAMAE launched production of an initial series of the SIG Sauer 556 under license to meet an initial order from the Army.
But the performance of the weapon was not satisfactory, especially in Chile’s northern desert of Atacama, and the search was renewed for a new weapon leading to the selection of IWI’s Galil ACE.
According to the sources, the Israeli-designed rifle will be assembled in Chile by FAMAE, including a number of locally manufactured parts.
IWI officials declined to discuss the possible sale to Chile.
Earlier model Galil rifles were procured by the Chilean Air Force and the Chilean Army Special Forces in the late 1980s and are still in use.
The Galil rifle is also in service with the military and law enforcing organizations in other South American and Central American nations, both in original AR variant and upgraded ACE versions. The latter is produced under license by INDUMIL in Colombia.