Israel's Rafael has confirmed that it is supplying hardware in support of Chile's purchase of Lockheed Martin F-16s, writes Stephen Trimble.

The producer of the Python and Derby series of short- and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles declines to provide terms of its agreement with the Chilean air force, but confirms that a deal was signed at the end of 2002.

Naftali Malkin, Rafael's director for offset programmes in the missile division, described the award as being linked to Chile's purchase of six Block 50 F-16C single-seat fighters and four two-seat F-16Ds, but is not included in the $660 million US Foreign Military Sales contract signed in March 2002. The Rafael deal triggered the Chilean military's requirement for a 100%-equivalent offset package.

The purchase of a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile has been the missing piece in Chile's F-16 programme. It was offered Raytheon's AIM-120 AMRAAM, but under a US government proviso that exports would be withheld until an equivalent regional threat is clearly visible.

Rafael signed a deal with Chile in mid-2003 to offer a further three military offset projects. The work is designed to complement the capability Rafael is providing for the F-16 on other air force platforms, says Malkin. Rafael is providing Derby missiles for integration with Chile's upgraded Northrop F-5 fighters.

In related news, Lockheed Martin has yet to complete two of the seven projects listed in its offset agreement for the F-16 order. The company has opened a publishing house for GE Aircraft Engines service bulletins in the region and certificated Chile-based Enaer to provide depot-level maintenance on Lockheed Martin C-130 transport aircraft based in Latin America and elsewhere.

Source: Flight International