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(s) "Quam celerrime ad astra"
March Alte Kameraden
Anniversaries March 21 (Air Force Day)
Commander in chief of the Air Force General del Aire (Air General) Jorge Robles Mella
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.


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.

During the military coup d'état on September 11, 1973, the Chilean Air Force bombarded the palace at the request of the Chilean Army.

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)

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

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

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

F-16D Block 50M of Chilean Air Force

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

Personnel Command

Education Division

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

Logistics Command

Maintenance Division
Administration Division
Infrastructure Division


Current inventory

A Chilean Air Force F-5E in flight
The EB-707 Condor surveillance aircraft
A Bell 412 on lift off
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Northrop F-5 United States fighter F-5E 9[1]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16A/C/D 46[2] 36 F-16A MLUs were acquired from the RNAF
Boeing 707 United States early warning and control 1[1] system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries
Learjet 35 United States surveillance RC-21 2[3]
Cirrus SR22 United States observation / liaison 2[1] 1 on order[1]
Boeing KC-135 United States aerial refueling KC-135E 3[1]
Boeing 737 United States VIP 1[1]
Boeing 767 United States VIP / transport 1[3][4]
Cessna Citation United States VIP CJ1 4[1]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B/H 3[1] 2 KC-130R ordered from USMC
CASA C-212 Spain utility / transport 3[1]
DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada utility transport 11[1]
Bell 412 United States utility 15[1]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 14[1]
Trainer Aircraft
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States jet trainer F-16B 11[1]
Northrop F-5 United States jet trainer F-5F 2[1]
EMB 314 Super Tucano Brazil advanced trainer 12[1]
T-35 Pillán Chile trainer 27[1] 5 on order[1]
Bell 206 United States trainer 4[1]
Hermes 900 Israel surveillance 3[5]

Future Aircraft

The Chilean government has signed letter of intent to purchase six Embraer KC-390 tanker/transport aircraft.[1][6]

Air Defense

Chile aquried 3 NASAMS systems like this one
Name Origin Type In service Notes
NASAMS Norway SAM system 3[7]
Sistema Mygale France SAM system 2 [7]
Anti-aircraft artillery
M163 VADS United States mobile anti-aircraft gun 44[7] weapon is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun
M167 Vulcan United States towed anti-aircraft gun 66[7]
Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon Switzerland towed anti-aircraft gun


Paveway II laser guided bomb
Illustration of an AGM -65 Maverick
Mark 84 gereral purpose bomb
Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
AIM-120 C5/C7 AMRAAM[7] United States beyond-visual-range missile initial 100 missiles obtained[7]
AIM-9 Sidewinder[7] United States initial 200 missiles obtained (from 2010 to 2013)[7]
RAFAEL Derby Israel beyond-visual-range missile
RAFAEL Python 4 Israel
Air-to-surface missile
AGM-65 Maverick[7] United States
General-purpose bomb
Mark 84 United States
Mark 82 United States
GBU-12 Paveway II United States laser-guided bomb
GBU-24 Paveway III United States laser-guided bomb
Anti-ship missile
AGM-84 Harpoon[7] 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 their jets under authorization).

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.[8] 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[9]General OfficerSuperior OfficerChief OfficerJunior OfficerCadet Officer
Sleeve (service dress)
Sleeve (full dress)
RankGeneral del AireGeneral de AviaciónGeneral de Brigada AéreaComodoroCoronel de AviaciónComandante de GrupoComandante de EscuadrillaCapitán de BandadaTenienteSubtenienteAlférezCadete
TranslationAir GeneralAviation GeneralAir Brigade GeneralCommodoreAviation ColonelGroup CommanderSquadron CommanderFlight CaptainLieutenantSub-lieutenantEnsignCadet Officer
EquivalentAir Chief MarshalAir MarshalAir Vice-MarshalAir Commodore
(optional rank for senior Group Captains)
Group CaptainWing CommanderSquadron LeaderFlight LieutenantFlying OfficerPilot OfficerActing Pilot OfficerOfficer Cadet


Noncommissioned and Enlisted Ranks[11]

RankSubofficer MajorSubofficerClassStudentConscripted Soldier
RankSuboficial MayorSuboficialSargento 1°Sargento 2°Cabo 1°Cabo 2°CaboAlumnoSoldado Conscripto
TranslationSub-officer MajorSub-officerFirst SergeantSecond SergeantFirst CorporalSecond CorporalCorporalStudentConscript Soldier
EquivalentWarrant OfficerWarrant OfficerFlight SergeantSergeantCorporalSenior Aircraftman (Air Groups and Topography Service),
Lance Corporal(Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment, Personnel Command and Logistics)
Leading Aircraftman Student NCOAircraftman

Badges of the Chilean Air Force


Officer[12]Line Corps
Arm of serviceAviationEngineeringAir DefenseTelecommunications and Information TechnologyAdministrationAir Base
SpecialtyAviators (Fighter, Helicopter) and Air transport officersAviation engineersAir defenseInformation and telecommunications engineersEngineers assigned to administrative dutiesLogistics
Officer[12]Services/Staff Corps
Arm of serviceJusticeMedical Corps
Dental Corps
ChaplainancyBands ServiceGeneral Services Corps
Abbreviation(J)(S) y (SD)(SR)(B)(SG)
SpecialtyAttorneys and JudgesDoctors, Nurses and Dentists
of various specialties
ChaplainsMusiciansProfessional workers and civilian employees

Non-commissioned officers and airmen

NCOs and airmen of the[12]Line CorpsServices Corps
Arm of serviceWeaponsTechnical supportAdministrationCombat medicine and surgery
SpeciallyAir Defense
Intelligence personnel
Maintenance and armaments
Communications, information technology and electronics
Air Operations Support
Administrative staffCombat medics and surgeons

Officers' cap badges

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

Rank cap badge[9]Air Generals and Air CommodoresColonels and Group CommandersEnsigns through Squadron Commanders
Full dress
Service dress
RankAir GeneralAviation GeneralAir Brigade GeneralAir CommodoreAviation ColonelGroup CommanderSquadron Commander Flight CaptainLieutenantSublieutenantEnsign


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 13". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  2. "Chilean Air Force". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  3. 1 2 "World Air Forces 2011/12". flightglobal insight. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. "Chilean Air Force Boeing 767". Retrieved 10 February 2015. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. "Chilean navy considers Hermes 900". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. "How Embraer attracted a global audience to the KC-390". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Trade Registers. Retrieved on 2015-02-18.
  8. " - Hosting web strnek zdarma". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  9. 1 2 Grados
  11. " - Hosting web strnek zdarma". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  12. 1 2 3

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