Defense Planning and Southern Cone Economic and Political Reform: Chilean and Argentine Air Force Acquisition Policies   [open pdf - 4MB]

This paper looks at recent Chilean and Argentine air force policies. Chile's Air Force (FACH) has become perhaps the region's most capable air force. Its budgets have declined recently, but less than those of the neighboring air forces. Acquisition funds are independent of the regular budget and not subject to congressional oversight. The FACH now wants to buy a squadron of fourth generation fighter aircraft. Argentina had done little to recapitalize its armed forces since the end of military rule. This has weakened its Air Force (FAA). It shows no interest in reordering priorities to upgrade FAA capabilities. None of this threatens war, but if poorly managed this asymmetry could undercut closer cooperation. Chile and Argentina should pursue transparency in military policy making, operations, budgeting, and acquisitions. To not do so risks slowing integration and the resolution of pending disputes. The U.S. cannot set a ceiling on aviation technology flowing to the region. Instead of trying to artificially limit supply of military aircraft, interested governments should focus political and diplomatic energies on building regional, political, economic, and military stability. They can promote multilateral service to service contacts and military power in assuring regional security.

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