Chilean Air Force

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Chilean Air Force
Fuerza Aérea de Chile
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force.svg
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force
Founded21 March 1930; 91 years ago (1930-03-21)
Country Chile
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofChilean Armed Forces
HeadquartersEdificio Delphos
Cerrillos, Santiago
Motto(s)Latin: Quam celerrime ad astra
"With full speed to the stars"
Colours  Indigo
MarchAlte Kameraden
Anniversaries21 March (Air Force Day)
Equipment180 aircraft
Engagements Edit this at Wikidata
Commander-in-Chief of the Air ForceGeneral del Aire Arturo Merino Núñez
Arturo Merino Benítez
Marmaduke Grove
Gustavo Leigh
Fernando Matthei
RoundelRoundel of Chile.svg Roundel of Chile – Low Visibility – Type 1.svg
Fin flashFin Flash of Chile.svg
Aircraft flown
707 Cóndor AEW&C
FighterF-16, F-5
TrainerT-35 Pillán, Super Tucano, T-36 Halcón
TransportC-130 Hercules, UH-1H Huey, Bell 412, UH-60 Black Hawk

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 is taken by Teniente Coronel training as a pilot[citation needed] 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.[1] It also participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions overseas in 5 occasions.


Order of battle[edit]

Personnel = 10,600 (including 700 conscripts)[citation needed]

Office of the Commander in Chief

Combat Command of the Air Force[edit]

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

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

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
F-16D Block 50M of Chilean Air Force
  • 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

Personnel Command[edit]

Education Division

  • 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

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

Logistics Command[edit]

Maintenance Division
Administration Division
Infrastructure Division

The Air Force also maintains the Air Force Special Forces (Comandos de Aviación), comparable to a United States Air Force Combat Control Team.[citation needed] They may be up to 350 strong, and their roles include assault, reconnaissance, Air Traffic Control, Fire Support, and Command, control, and communications.[citation needed]


Current inventory[edit]

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 10[2]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16A/C 35[2] 36 F-16A MLUs were acquired from the RNLAF
Boeing 707 United States early warning and control 1[2] system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries
KC-135 Stratotanker United States aerial refueling KC-135E 3[2]
KC-130 Hercules United States aerial refueling KC-130R 3[2]
Boeing 737 United States VIP transport 1[2]
Boeing 767 United States VIP / transport 1[3][4]
Cessna Citation United States VIP CJ1 4[2]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B/H 4[2]
CASA C-212 Spain utility / transport 3[2]
DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada utility transport 11[2] STOL capable aircraft
Bell 412 United States utility 15[2]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 10[2]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility S-70i 6[2]
Trainer Aircraft
Bell 206 United States rotorcraft trainer 5[2]
T-35 Pillán Chile trainer 31[2]
Cirrus SR22 United States trainer 8[2]
CASA C-101 Spain jet trainer 19[2]
Northrop F-5 United States conversion trainer F-5F 3[2]
Embraer EMB 314 Brazil advanced trainer 22[2]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States conversion trainer F-16B/D 11[2]
Hermes 900 Israel surveillance 3[5]

Future Aircraft[edit]

The Chilean government has signed letter of intent to purchase six Embraer KC-390 tanker/transport aircraft.[6][7]

Air Defense[edit]

Chile aquried 3 NASAMS systems like this one
Name Origin Type In service Notes
NASAMS Norway SAM system 3[8]
Sistema Mygale France SAM system 2 [8]
Anti-aircraft artillery
M163 VADS United States mobile anti-aircraft gun 44[8] weapon is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun
M167 Vulcan United States towed anti-aircraft gun 66[8]
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[8] United States beyond-visual-range missile initial 100 missiles obtained[8]
AIM-9 Sidewinder[8] United States initial 200 missiles obtained (from 2010 to 2013)[8]
RAFAEL Derby Israel beyond-visual-range missile
RAFAEL Python 4 Israel
Air-to-surface missile
AGM-65 Maverick[8] 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[8] 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).


Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Chilean Air Force
Air General Aviation General Air Brigade General Commodore Aviation Colonel Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sub-Lieutenant Ensign Cadet
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
Chile-AirForce-OR-9.svg PCP.2 - B.SOF.svg PCP.3 - B.SG1.svg PCP.4 - SG2.svg PCP.5 - CB1.svg PCP.6 - CB2.svg PCP.7 - CBO.svg FACh Alumno (brazo).png No insignia
Suboficial mayor Suboficial Sargento primero Sargento segundo Cabo primero Cabo segundo Cabo Alumno Soldado



Officer[9] Line Corps
Badge Aire.svg FACh.Ingenieros.svg FACh.Defensa Antiaérea.svg FACh.Telecomunicaciones e Informática.svg FACh.Administración.svg FACh.Base Aérea.svg
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[9] Services/Staff Corps
Badge FACh.Justicia.svg FACh.Sanidad.svg FACh.Servicio Religioso.svg FACh.Bandas.svg FACh.Servicios Generales.svg
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[edit]

NCOs and airmen of the[9] Line Corps Services Corps
Badge Suboficiales.png -
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[edit]

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

Rank cap badge[10] Air Generals and Air Commodores Colonels and Group Commanders Ensigns through Squadron Commanders
Full dress Gorras FACh1- Oficial General Gala -.svg Gorras FACh2- Oficial CDA CDG Gala -.svg Gorras FACh3 - Oficial CDE a ALF Gala -.svg
Service dress Gorras FACh1- Oficial General Servicio -.svg Gorras FACh2- Oficial CDA CDG Servicio -.svg Gorras FACh3 - Oficial CDE a ALF Servicio -.svg
Rank Air General Aviation General Air Brigade General Air Commodore Aviation Colonel Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sublieutenant Ensign

In news[edit]

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.[11] On 11 December 2019, aircraft debris was located 18 miles South of where the plane last made contact. Chilean authorities will continue to search and hope for a better result however, there is a slim chance of finding survivors at this point. The cause of the crash is unknown and the situation is ongoing.[12]


  1. ^ Salitre 2014 Exercise in Chile promotes cooperation among five air forces Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Dialogo Americas 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  3. ^ "World Air Forces 2011/12". flightglobal insight. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Chilean Air Force Boeing 767". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Chilean navy considers Hermes 900". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. ^ "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 13". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  7. ^ "How Embraer attracted a global audience to the KC-390". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Trade Registers. Retrieved on 2015-02-18.
  9. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2010-10-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Grados Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Antarctica-bound plane missing with 38 on board". 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  12. ^ 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.


  • Hagedorn, Daniel P. (September–October 1996). "Talkback". Air Enthusiast (65): 80. ISSN 0143-5450.

External links[edit]