Chile presents interesting challenges for an air defense network. Its geography is long, thin, and extremely mountainous, which greatly complicates attempts at full coverage. Tensions over the last couple of decades have been centered on the relatively narrow border with Peru, which represents a simpler problem, but mountainous areas will still introduce “shadows” into radar coverage. Mobile systems are extremely desirable, and to date, Chilean missile defenses have consisted of Blowpipe and Mistral shoulder-fired missiles, and short-range MIM-72 Chaparral tracked systems based on AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
In November 2009, Chile submitted a pair of purchase requests to the US DSCA whose net effect would be to create a mobile short-range air defense system for its army. Chile’s Ejercito currently relies on MBDA’s shoulder-fired Mistral missiles for this role, but the addition of Avenger fire units and Sentinel radars would offer big steps forward in mobile battlefield awareness and defense. In June 2010, reports emerged that this would be followed by a purchase of longer-range AMRAAM-based systems. The $200+ million question is whether any of this has moved forward, as of May 2012.