Chile did opt for Gripen.

ALTHOUGH THE requirement tor a new fighter aircraft has been effectively frozen due to Chile’s economic situation, a winner was officially decided on in December 1997 — the BAe/Saab Gripen. However, the Commander in Chief (C-in-C) of the Fuerza Аerеа de Chile (Chilean Air Force), General Fernando Rojas Vender, wanted to attract all the participating companies to the FIDAE 98 aerospace show in Santiago (of which he is also president) and so this decision was kept very quiet. Subsequently Boeing made additional representations to Chile regarding the F/A-18 Hornet, but Chile is concerned that the ‘C’ model production line is now winding down.

Recent disagreements with Britain over the extradition of General Pinochet have soured relations between the two countries and this has severely jeopardised the BAe/Saab Gripen since Chile no longer wants to deal with a UK company.

The Chilean Government has decided to resume the selection process later this year and unless the political situation changes the winner is now likely to be either the Lockheed Martin F-16C or the Dassault Mirage 2000-5. The latter aircraft, does offer a beyond visual range (BVR) missile, the Matra BAe Dynamics MICA. Selection of this weapon, however, could be considered hypocritical since it also has UK involvement.

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