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Chilean Air Force


Chilean Air Force

Chilean Air Force
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force
Founded March 21, 1930
Country Chile
Part of Chilean Armed Forces
Motto "Quam celerrime ad astra"
March Alte Kameraden
Anniversaries March 21 (Air Force Day)
General del Aire (Air General) Jorge Rojas Ávila
Roundel 1918–1930
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 Halcón
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.


  • History 1
    • Commanders-in-chief 1.1
  • Order of Battle 2
    • Office of the Commander in Chief, Chilean Air Force 2.1
    • Combat Command of the Air Force 2.2
    • Personnel Command 2.3
    • Logistics Command 2.4
  • Current inventory 3
    • Aircraft 3.1
    • Future Aircraft 3.2
    • Anti-aircraft warfare 3.3
    • Armament 3.4
  • Industry 4
  • Future Programmes 5
  • Ranks of the Chilean Air Force 6
    • Officer Ranks (SS.OO.) 6.1
    • Noncommissioned and Enlisted Ranks 6.2
  • Badges of the Chilean Air Force 7
    • Officers 7.1
    • Non-commissioned officers and airmen 7.2
    • Officers' cap badges 7.3
  • References 8
  • External links 9


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, Air Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez. Its baptism of fire was in the 1931 sailors' rebellion in Coquimbo, where Air Force attack aircraft and bombers and 2 transport planes converted into bombers contributed to its failure.

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. It also participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions overseas in 5 occasions.


Order of Battle

Personnel = 10,600 (including 700 conscripts)

Office of the Commander in Chief, Chilean Air Force

Combat Command of the Air Force

The Delphos building, designed by the Division of Infrastructure Logistics Command Air Force

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

  • 1st Aviation Group
  • 2nd Aviation Group
  • 3rd Aviation Group
  • 24th Air Defense Group
  • 34th Electronic Detection Group
  • 44th Aviation Infantry Group

Second Air Brigade with headquarters in Pudahuel Air Base (Base Aérea Pudahuel) in Santiago

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

  • 5th Aviation Group
  • 25th Air Defense Group
  • 35th Electronic Detection Group

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

  • 6th Aviation Group
F-16D Block 50M of Chilean Air Force
  • 12th Aviation Group
  • 23rd Air Defense Group
  • 33rd Electronic Detection Group
  • 19th Antarctic Exploration Group

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

  • 7th Aviation Group
  • 8th Aviation Group
  • 21st Air Defense Group
  • 31st Electronic Detection Group

Personnel Command

Education Division

  • Aviation School "Captain Manuel Ávalos Prado"
  • Air Specialties School "Flight Sergeant Adolfo Menadier Rojas"
  • NCO Perfectioning School
  • Air War Academy
  • Aeronautical Polytechnical Academy
  • Air Photographic Surveying Service

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

Logistics Command

Maintenance Division
Administration Division
Infrastructure Division

Current inventory


Note: Numbers shown below are derived from open sources, they should be regarded as estimates due to lack of confirmation from official sources.
Aircraft Origin Type Service versions Total[1] Photos
Fighter Aircraft
General Dynamics / Fokker
Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon
 United States
Multirole combat aircraft 29 F-16AM MLU
7 F-16BM MLU
6 F-16C Block 50M
4 F-16D Block 50M
Northrop F-5E/F Tiger III  United States Interceptor aircraft 10 F-5E Tiger III
3 F-5F Tiger III
Boeing-IAI 707 Cóndor  United States
Airborne early warning & control EB-707 Cóndor 1
Transport and Aerial Refueling
Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker  United States Aerial refueling
Strategic transport
KC-135E Stratotanker 3
Boeing 767  United States Strategic transport Boeing 767-300ER 1
Boeing 737  United States Strategic transport 1 Boeing 737-500
1 Boeing 737-300
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Tactical transport 2 C-130H Hercules
1 C-130B Hercules
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Tactical transport 2 C-212–200 Aviocar
1 C-212–300 Aviocar
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Tactical transport 4 DHC-6-100 Twin Otter
9 DHC-6-300 Twin Otter
CASA/ENAER C-101CC Halcón  Spain
Advanced jet trainer A-36 Toqui II 8
Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano  Brazil Advanced trainer A-29B Super Tucano 12
Cessna Citation 525  United States Flight instruments trainer CJ-1 Citation 4
ENAER T-35 Pillán  Chile Basic trainer 12 T-35A1 Pillán
17 T-35B Pillán
Cirrus SR-22 T  United States Basic trainer
SR-22 T 2
Military Helicopter
Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk  United States Transport helicopter S-70A Black Hawk 1
Bell 412  United States Utility helicopter 5 Bell 412SP
12 Bell 412EP
Bell UH-1 Iroquois  United States Utility helicopter UH-1H Iroquois 15
Bell 206  United States Utility helicopter Bell 206B JetRanger III 5
Transport VIP/ Utility
Gulfstream IV  United States VIP transport G-IV Gulfstream 1
Learjet 35  United States Reconnaissance aircraft LR-35A Learjet 2
Piper PA-28 Cherokee  United States Utility aircraft
PA-28-236 Dakota 7
Cessna O-2 Skymaster  United States Aerial reconnaissance O-2A Skymaster 2
Cessna O-1 Bird Dog  United States Glider towing O-1A Bird Dog 2
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Elbit Hermes 900  Israel Unmanned aerial vehicle Hermes 900 3
Extra EA-300L  Germany Aerobatics EA-300L 5

Future Aircraft

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.
Hawks High Aerobatics Squad Halcones.
Aircraft Origin Type Versions Total Photo
Embraer KC-390  Brazil Military transport aircraft KC-390 6

Anti-aircraft warfare

Name Origin Type Photo
Surface-to-air missile
NASAMS  Norway Medium range air defense system
Sistema Mygale  France Short Range Anti-Aircraft System
Self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon
M163 VADS  United States
Anti-aircraft warfare
Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon   Switzerland
M167 VADS  United States


Name Origin Type Photo
Air-to-air missile
AIM-120 C5/C7 AMRAAM  United States Beyond-visual-range missile
AIM-9 Sidewinder  United States
RAFAEL Derby  Israel Beyond-visual-range missile
RAFAEL Python 4  Israel
Air-to-surface missile
AGM-65 Maverick  United States
Mark 84  United States
Mark 82  United States
GBU-12 Paveway II  United States
GBU-24 Paveway III  United States
Anti-ship missile
AGM-84 Harpoon  United States


Chile also maintains its own aviation industry, ENAER. The design of the T-35 Pillán 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 Halcón (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. Also, under the Pacer Amstel programme, with initial Dutch support, and later locally ENAER upgraded an F-16 combat jet, which for the Chilean Air Force is an advance for their maintenance of the F-16 fleet (becoming the 5th country to modify under authorization their jets).

Future Programmes

In July 2011, Elbit Systems reported the first export sale of its Hermes 900 UAV to the Chilean Air Force.[2]

The Chilean Air Force seeks to acquire aircraft trainers to replace A-36 Halcón. Among the competitors highlights the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, BAE Hawk and Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master. The service hopes to select a trainer platform and to sign a contract for a batch of 12 to 16 aircraft by 2013.[3]

By 2015, the Chilean Air Force must decommission the F-5 Tiger III, among the possible candidates to replace Tigers are the EF-2000, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-35 Lightning II or F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Chilean Air Force is looking to procure next-generation turboprop medium transport aircraft.[4]

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 Ávalos 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.[5] 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 and the Bolivian and Colombian air forces.

Rank[6] General Officer Superior Officer Chief Officer Junior Officer Cadet Officer
Sleeve (service dress)
Sleeve (full dress)
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 Aviation General Air Brigade General Commodore Aviation Colonel 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[8]

Rank Subofficer Major Subofficer Class Student Conscripted Soldier
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 Conscript Soldier
Equivalent Warrant Officer Warrant Officer Flight Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Senior Aircraftman (Air Groups and Topography Service),
Lance Corporal(Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment, Personnel Command and Logistics)
Leading Aircraftman Student NCO Aircraftman

Badges of the Chilean Air Force


Officer[9] Line Corps
Arm of service Aviation Engineering Air Defense Telecommunications and Information Technology Administration Air Base
Abbreviation (A) (I) (DA) (TI) (AD) (BA)
Specialty Aviators (Fighter, Helicopter) and Air transport officers Aviation engineers Air defense Information and telecommunications engineers Engineers assigned to administrative duties Logistics
Officer[10] Services/Staff Corps
Arm of service Justice Medical Corps
Dental Corps
Chaplainancy Bands Service General Services Corps
Abbreviation (J) (S) y (SD) (SR) (B) (SG)
Specialty Attorneys and Judges Doctors, Nurses and Dentists
of various specialties
Chaplains Musicians Professional workers and civilian employees

Non-commissioned officers and airmen

NCOs and airmen of the[11] Line Corps Services Corps
Badge -
Arm of service Weapons Technical support Administration Combat medicine and surgery
Specially Air Defense
Intelligence personnel
Maintenance and armaments
Communications, information technology and electronics
Air Operations Support
Administrative staff Combat medics and surgeons

Officers' cap badges

Chilean Air Force officers wear the following cap badges in their peaked caps.

Rank cap badge[12] Air Generals and Air Commodores Colonels and Group Commanders Ensigns through Squadron Commanders
Full dress
Service dress
Rank Air General Aviation General Air Brigade General Air Commodore Aviation Colonel Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sublieutenant Ensign


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Chile; AF next generation medium transport planes program -, 15 January 2014
  5. ^
  6. ^ Grados
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ Grados

External links

  • Fuerza Aérea de Chile website (Spanish)
  • Ranks of Fuerza Aérea de Chile website (Spanish)
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