Chilean Air Force

The Chilean Air Force is the air force of Chile, a branch of the Chilean military.


The first step towards the current FACh is taken by Teniente Coronel training as a pilot 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 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 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 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 effectively creating the current independent Air Force. It was initially named 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 Grupo de Transporte No.1, 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 in 2014. It also participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions overseas in 5 occasions.


Order of battle

Personnel = 10,600

Office of the Commander in Chief

Combat Command of the Air Force

First Air Brigade with headquarters in Los Cóndores Air Base in Iquique
Second Air Brigade with headquarters in Pudahuel Air Base in Santiago
Third Air Brigade with headquarters in El Tepual Air Base in Puerto Montt
Fourth Air Brigade with headquarters in Chabunco Air Base in Punta Arenas
Fifth Air Brigade with headquarters in Cerro Moreno Air Base in Antofagasta
Education Division
Health Division

General Hospital of the Air Force

Air Force High Command Prefecture

Logistics Command

Maintenance Division

Administration Division

Infrastructure Division


Current inventory

Future Aircraft

The Chilean government has signed letter of intent to purchase six Embraer KC-390 tanker/transport aircraft.

Air Defense



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 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.





Non-commissioned officers and airmen

Officers' cap badges

Chilean Air Force officers wear the following cap badges in their peaked caps.

In news

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. On 11 December 2019, aircraft debris was located 18 miles South of where the plane last made contact. Chilean authorities will continue to search and hope for a better result however, there is a slim chance of finding survivors at this point. The cause of the crash is unknown and the situation is ongoing.