Chilean defence ministry sources have confirmed that negotiations with the Dutch government to acquire a second lot of Royal Netherlands Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BMs is under way. Local sources say the signing of an agreement is close at hand.
Budgeted at $170 million, the deal covers the purchase of 14 F-16AM fighters and a pair of two-seat F-16BMs, along with a large spares and tools package.
Chile hopes to receive the 16 F-16AM/BMs from the third quarter of 2009, allowing the air force to retire its entire inventory of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIIs, which are in service with the Antofagasta-based Grupo de Aviación VII.
Acquiring 10 F-16C/D Block 50s in 2002 and 18 ex-Dutch air force F-16AM/BMs in 2005 - which replaced Dassault Mirage 50CN/DC Panteras and Mirage 5BA/BD Elkans - the purchase of a second batch of F-16AM/BMs fulfils a Chilean air force plan to standardise its air defence/strike assets with a single aircraft type.
Local sources have indicated that the Chilean air force is examining a follow-on order for another 10 F-16C/D Block 50 fighters between 2010 and 2012.