The Chilean Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh) is the Air force of Chile and branch of the Chilean military.
|Chilean Air Force|
|Fuerza Aérea de Chile|
|Founded||21 March 1930|
|Part of||Chilean Armed Forces|
|Headquarters||Edificio Delphos |
|Motto(s)||Latin: Quam celerrime ad astra |
"With full speed to the stars"
|Anniversaries||21 March (Air Force Day)|
|Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force||General del Aire Hugo Rodríguez González|
|Arturo Merino Benítez |
|Helicopter||Bell 206, Bell 412, S-70, UH-1H, UH-60,|
|Reconnaissance||Elbit Hermes 900|
|Trainer||A-29, T-35, SR-22, GB1|
|Transport||B-737, B-767, C-130, C-212, CJ-1, DHC-6, Gulfstream V, L-35|
The first step towards the current FACh is taken by Teniente Coronel training as a pilot in France. Although a local academy was created, 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, which was officially established in February 1913, and remained in command until 1915. The Military Aviation School (Escuela de Aviación Militar) 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 National Airline (Línea Aérea Nacional) 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 Department of the Air Force (Subsecretaria de Aviación) effectively creating the current independent Air Force. It was initially named National Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Nacional). 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 Transport Group 1, later renumbered Group 10, with two C-45s and a single T-6 Texan at Los Cerrillos. Two years later the first FACh 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.
During the military coup d'état on September 11, 1973, the Chilean Air Force conducted Operation Silence, Hunters from the 7th Aviation Squadron destroyed several transmission antennas belonging to pro-government radio stations. After accomplishing their mission, the aircraft performed attack runs on the presidential residence at Las Condes and the presidential palace, a pilot mistakenly opened fire on the Air Force Hospital when attacking the residence, no casualties were reported.
The Chilean air force hosted the joint exercise Salitre with other friendly nations in 2014. It also participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions overseas in 5 occasions.
The Chilean Air Force reported one of its C-130 Hercules transport aircraft carrying 38 people en route to Antarctica missing on December 9, 2019. The aircraft was on its way to Antarctica’s King George Island to provide logistic support to a military base when radio contact was lost. On 11 December 2019, aircraft debris was located 18 miles South of where the plane last made contact and no survivors were found. The cause of the crash is unknown.
Order of battleEdit
Personnel = 10,600 (including 700 conscripts)
Office of the Commander in Chief
Combat Command of the Air ForceEdit
First Air Brigade with headquarters in Los Cóndores Air Base (Base Aérea Los Cóndores) in Iquique
- 1st Aviation Squadron
- 2nd Aviation Squadron
- 3rd Aviation Squadron
- 24th Air Defense Squadron
- 34th Telecommunications Squadron
- 44th Aviation Infantry Squadron
Second Air Brigade with headquarters in Pudahuel Air Base (Base Aérea Pudahuel) in Santiago
- 9th Aviation Squadron
- 10th Aviation Squadron
- Air Defence and Special Forces Regiment (Regimiento de Artillería Antiaérea y FF.EE)
- 32nd Telecommunications Squadron
Third Air Brigade with headquarters in El Tepual Air Base (Base Aérea El Tepual) in Puerto Montt
- 5th Aviation Squadron
- 25th Air Defense Squadron
- 35th Telecommunications Squadron
Fourth Air Brigade with headquarters in Chabunco Air Base (Base Aérea Chabunco) in Punta Arenas
- 6th Aviation Squadron
- 12th Aviation Squadron
- 23rd Air Defense Squadron
- 33rd Telecommunications Squadron
- 19th Antarctic Exploration Squadron
Fifth Air Brigade with headquarters in Cerro Moreno Air Base (Base Aérea Cerro Moreno) in Antofagasta
- 7th Aviation Squadron
- 8th Aviation Squadron
- 21st Air Defense Squadron
- 31st Telecommunications Squadron
- 41st Aviation Infantry Squadron
- Air Force School "Captain Manuel Ávalos Prado"
- Air Force NCO School "Flight Sergeant Adolfo Menadier Rojas"
- Advanced NCO School
- Air War Academy
- Air Force Polytechnical Academy
- Air Photographic Surveying Service
General Hospital of the Air Force
Air Force High Command Prefecture
The Air Force also maintains the Air Force Special Forces (Comandos de Aviación), comparable to a United States Air Force Combat Control Team. They may be up to 350 strong, and their roles include assault, reconnaissance, Air Traffic Control, Fire Support, and Command, control, and communications.
Chile also maintains its own aviation industry, ENAER. The design of the T-35 Pillán trainer, based on the Piper PA-28R Saratoga, 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 their jets under authorization).
|Rank group||General/flag officers||Senior officers||Junior officers||Officer cadet|
| Chilean Air Force
|General de 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|
|Rank group||Senior NCOs||Junior NCOs||Enlisted|
| Chilean Air Force
|Suboficial mayor||Suboficial||Sargento primero||Sargento segundo||Cabo primero||Cabo segundo||Cabo||Soldado de tropa profesional||Alumno|
|Arm of service||Aviation||Engineering||Air Defense||Telecommunications and Information Technology||Administration||Air Base|
|Specialty||Aviators (Fighter, Helicopter) and Air transport officers||Aviation engineers||Air defense||Information and telecommunications engineers||Engineers assigned to administrative duties||Logistics|
|Arm of service||Justice||Medical 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 airmenEdit
|NCOs and airmen of the||Line Corps||Services Corps|
|Arm of service||Weapons||Technical support||Administration||Combat medicine and surgery|
|Maintenance and armaments
Communications, information technology and electronics
Air Operations Support
|Administrative staff||Combat medics and surgeons|
Officers' cap badgesEdit
Chilean Air Force officers wear the following cap badges in their peaked caps.
|Rank cap badge||Air Generals and Air Commodores||Colonels and Group Commanders||Ensigns through Squadron Commanders|
|Rank||Air General||Aviation General||Air Brigade General||Air Commodore||Aviation Colonel||Group Commander||Squadron Commander||Flight Captain||Lieutenant||Sublieutenant||Ensign|
- ^ Salitre 2014 Exercise in Chile promotes cooperation among five air forces Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Dialogo Americas 2014
- ^ "Antarctica-bound plane missing with 38 on board". 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
- ^ Staff; agencies (2019-12-11). "Chilean air force finds debris believed to be from missing plane with 38 people". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
- ^ a b "Grados". fach.cl (in Spanish). Department of Communications. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
- ^ a b c "Institución". Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- ^ Grados Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Fuerza Aérea de Chile official website
- Fuerza Aérea de Chile at Chilean Defense Ministry, official website
- Fuerza Aérea de Chile website, old at Archive.org (in Spanish)
- Ranks of Fuerza Aérea de Chile website (in Spanish)