Chilean Air Force
Fuerza Aérea de Chile
Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force
Founded21 March 1930; 94 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 Hugo Rodríguez González
Arturo Merino Benítez
Marmaduke Grove
Gustavo Leigh
Fernando Matthei
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
FighterF-5, F-16,
HelicopterBell 206, Bell 412, S-70, UH-1H, UH-60,
ReconnaissanceElbit Hermes 900
TrainerA-29, T-35, SR-22, GB1
TransportB-737, B-767, C-130, C-212, CJ-1, DHC-6, Gulfstream V, L-35
TankerKC-130, KC-135

The Chilean Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh) is the Air force of Chile and 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.

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.[2] 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.[3]


Main article: List of commanders-in-chief of the Chilean Air Force

Order of battle

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

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

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

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]


Main article: List of active Chile military aircraft


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 13[4] 3 F-5F’s provide conversion training
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16A/C/D 46 11 F-16B’s provide conversion training[4]
E-3D Sentry United States AEW&C E-3D 3[5] Donated by the Royal Air Force in 2022.
Boeing 707 United States AEW 1 system developed by IAI – 1 on order[4]
KC-135 Stratotanker United States aerial refueling KC-135E/R 3 / 3[4]
Boeing 737 United States VIP transport 1[4]
Boeing 767 United States VIP / transport 1[6][7]
Learjet 35 United States utility / reconnaissance CJ1 4[4]
Cessna Citation United States VIP CJ1 4[4]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B/H 8[4]
CASA C-212 Spain utility / transport 3[4]
DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada utility transport 12[4] one used for reconnaissance
Bell 412 United States utility 15[4]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 10[4]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility S-70i 6[4]
Trainer Aircraft
Bell 206 United States rotorcraft trainer 5[4]
T-35 Pillán Chile trainer 31[4]
Cirrus SR22 United States trainer 8[4]
CASA C-101 Spain jet trainer 19[4]
Embraer EMB 314 Brazil advanced trainer 22[4]
Hermes 900 Israel surveillance 3[8]


ENAER T-35 Pillán

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).


Main article: Air Force ranks and insignia of Chile

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Chilean Air Force[9]
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[9]
No insignia
Suboficial mayor Suboficial Sargento primero Sargento segundo Cabo primero Cabo segundo Cabo Soldado de tropa profesional Alumno



Officer[10] Line Corps
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[10] Services/Staff Corps
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[10] Line Corps Services Corps
Badge -
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[11] Air Generals and Air Commodores Colonels and Group Commanders Ensigns through Squadron Commanders
Full dress
Service dress
Rank Air General Aviation General Air Brigade General Air Commodore Aviation Colonel Group Commander Squadron Commander Flight Captain Lieutenant Sublieutenant Ensign


  1. ^ Salitre 2014 Exercise in Chile promotes cooperation among five air forces Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Dialogo Americas 2014
  2. ^ "Antarctica-bound plane missing with 38 on board". 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "World Air Forces 2023". Flight Global. Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2023.
  5. ^ Rivas, Santiago (2022-01-19). "Chile buys three Boeing E-3D Sentry aircraft from UK". Jane's. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  6. ^ "World Air Forces 2011/12". flightglobal insight. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Chilean Air Force Boeing 767". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Chilean navy considers Hermes 900". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Grados". (in Spanish). Department of Communications. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  10. ^ a b c "Institución". Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  11. ^ Grados Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine