The second-hand airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft were officially inducted into Chilean service during a ceremony held by II Brigada Aérea (Air Brigade) at Base Aérea Pudahuel – which is part of Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago – on August 19.
The formal induction of these two E-3Ds provides the FACh’s Grupo de Aviación No 10 (Aviation Group No 10) with a replacement of its now-retired Boeing EC-707C Condor AEW&C aircraft, which had been in service for more than 25 years and had reached the end of its operational life. In addition, the introduction of the E-3Ds finally restores the FACh’s AEW&C and command-and-control (C2) capabilities.
In RAF service, these two E-3Ds were formerly serialled ZH103 and ZH106 – one of which has now been re-serialled as 905 in FACh service. The Chilean serial for the second aircraft has yet to be confirmed. Of the two aircraft, ZH103 departed its former home base – RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire – on its delivery flight to Chile on July 25. The second aircraft (ZH106) followed the next day.
The August 19 ceremony was attended by a number of high-profile guests, including Maya Fernández Allende, the Chilean Minister of National Defence; General of the Air Force Arturo Merino Núñez, commander-in-chief of the FACh; and Louise De Sousa, the British Ambassador to Chile. At the reception ceremony, the two aircraft were officially transferred to Chile through an agreement between the UK and Chilean governments.
Chile’s Minister of National Defence considered the incorporation of the E-3Ds and their respective capabilities as excellent news for the FACh, saying that the acquisition is “very important for Chile, for the defence of our sovereignty and also because it will provide vital support in other tasks in times of peace.”
Meanwhile, the FACh’s commander-in-chief echoed the importance of the newly acquired AEW&C aircraft. He said: “Today is a very important day for the [FACh], because we have recovered a capacity that we had lost with the Condor plane, which was decommissioned due to obsolescence, so the arrival of the Sentry aircraft allows us to maintain control of the airspace.”