Chile signed a $500 million deal February 1 to receive 10 F16C/D fighter aircraft from the United States. The deal marks the first sale of advanced U.S. weaponry to a Latin American country since President Bill Clinton's August 1997 decision to rescind a 20year-old policy effectively barring such transfers.
Engine and weapons contracts for the F-16 fighters are being concluded separately from the February 1 deal. Chilean Defense Minister Michelle Bachelet said January 30 that the total package would cost Chile approximately $660 million over the next nine years.
Deliveries of the combat jets to Chile will take place in 20052006. Lockheed Martin, which is the U.S. builder of the F-16, noted in a February 2 press release that Chile would become the 22nd country, including the United States, to fly the fighter. Chile held a competition to select a new combat aircraft in 1997, and although some of its neighbors expressed concern at the time that the fighter buy could upset regional stability, little protest greeted Chile's February 1 deal. …