As its current frigates are replaced over the next few years the Chilean Navy will see an expansion in the availability of flight decks to take tactical rotary-wing aircraft to sea from six to eight.
However, as the service has only five seagoing, armed maritime strike AS332F Super Puma helicopters it is looking at how to increase this number by upgrading and giving a tactical role to four AS365Fi Dauphin 2s already in its inventory, military sources in Santiago have told Jane's .
Bought in 2008 in a transaction worth USD24 million, the four former Irish Air Corps helicopters are currently used in a utility role - both shore based and seagoing on board offshore patrol vessels - for search and rescue (SAR), exclusive economic zone control, liaison and community support.
Similar to the AS365Fs acquired by the French and other navies but intended for SAR and fishery control functions, the AS365Fi aircraft were fitted with a Bendix RDR 1500 search radar, SUM 155 autopilot, CDV 155 four-axis flight director coupler and a complete navigation suite.
With the AS365Fi is in high demand in its utility capacity, its upgrade will be facilitated by the renewal of the Chilean Navy's fleet of utility helicopters. The tender to acquire a first batch of five new aircraft, to replace old Bell 206 JetRangers, has been launched and an order is expected by the end of this year.
According to military sources, the upgrade of the AS365Fi fleet would take place between 2020 and 2023. The cockpit, sensors and communications of the aircraft would be modernised and a datalink added. Their Safran Arriel 1C1 turbines and dynamic components would also be uprated to improve the type's power-to-weight ratio.
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