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[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 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)

Office of the Commander in Chief

Combat Command of the Air Force

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 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
  • 41th Aviation Infantry 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

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
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16A/C/D 46[1] 36 F-16A MLUs were acquired from the RNAF
Northrop F-5 United States fighter F-5E 9[2]
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/R 5[2]
Boeing 737 United States VIP 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/R 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 15[2]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility S-70i 6 on order[2]
Trainer Aircraft
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States jet trainer F-16B 11[2]
Northrop F-5 United States jet trainer F-5F 2[2]
EMB 314 Brazil advanced trainer 12[2]
T-35 Pillán Chile trainer 32[2]
Cirrus SR22 United States trainer 4[2]
Bell 206 United States trainer 4[2]
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.[6][7]

Air Defense

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).


NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
Chile Chile
No equivalent Air General Aviation General Air Brigade General Commodore Aviation Colonel Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sub-Lieutenant Ensign Cadet
Air Chief Marshal
General de Aire
Air Marshal
General de Aviación
Air Vice-Marshal
General de Brigada Aérea
Air Commodore
Group Captain
Coronel de Aviación
Wing Commander
Comandante de Grupo
Squadron Leader
Comandante de Escuadrilla
Flight Lieutenant
Capitán de Bandada
Flying Officer
Pilot Officer
Acting Pilot Officer
Officer Cadet
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Chile Chile
PCP.1 - H.SOM.svg PCP.2 - B.SOF.svg No equivalent PCP.3 - B.SG1.svg PCP.4 - SG2.svg PCP.5 - CB1.svg PCP.6 - CB2.svg PCP.7 - CBO.svg No insignia
Suboficial Mayor Suboficial Sargento Primero Sargento Segundo Cabo Primero Cabo Segundo Cabo 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

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

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


  1. ^ "Chilean Air Force". f-16.net. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "World Air Forces 2017". Flightglobal Insight. 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  3. ^ "World Air Forces 2011/12". flightglobal insight. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Chilean Air Force Boeing 767". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 10 February 2015.  Check date values in: date= (help)
  5. ^ "Chilean navy considers Hermes 900". flightglobal.com. 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". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Trade Registers. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 2015-02-18.
  9. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  10. ^ Grados Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine.

External links