Base Aeronaval Viña del Mar

Aviación Naval Chilena


Qualitatively, if perhaps not quantitatively, Chile's Navy has been among South America's best for many years. Any modern Navy needs an aviation element as well, a fact recognised by the Chilean government of 1923 when the decision was taken to establish the Aviación Naval. Initial equipment consisted of UK supplied aircraft like the Sopwith Baby and AVRO 504K. Initially, the Aviación Naval flew from the Naval base south of the city of Valparaiso near Los Torpederas beach. In 1926 a move to a site called Quintero, to the north of the sea resort of Viña del Mar, was initiated.  Due to the expansion of the city of Viña del Mar the base was moved yet again, now to a location near Concon. Flying operations started here in 1989. 

Today, Viña del Mar houses Fuerza Aeronaval No.1 which is the parent unit to a number of squadrons. These units include VC-1, VP-1, HU-1 and the flight school to which VT-1 is assigned. Detachments are kept at Los Condores near Iquique in the extreme north of the country as well as at Carlos Ibañez near Punta Arenas and at Puerto Williams in the extreme south of Chile.

Viña del Mar was visited by the author on 21 October 2003, something for which the undersigned would like to thank the Chilean authoroties as well as Graham Dinsdale and Garreth le Sueur.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.


This Pilatus PC.7 serialled 215 is part of the training squadron VT-1 (Vuelor de Entrenamiento). The PC.7's were delivered during 1980 and took the place of T-34 Mentors. A total of 10 aircraft have been delivered with no losses so far. If necessary, the PC.7's can double in a light strike role.

Maritime patrol obviously is the main trade of Aviación Naval. For Chile, this is a particularly ardeous task given the length of the country's coastline. Three types of aircraft share this responsibility. 335 is one of eight Cessna O-2A Super Skymasters procured from the USA. Short range maritime patrol as well as fishery inspection and SAR are the tasks assigned. For the latter role O-2's can be equipped with inflatable and air droppable life rafts. 

The O-2's are being flown by squadron VC-1 (Vuelo de Cargo) also known as the Escuadrón de Propósitos Generales which also flight light transport missions with the CASA C.212 Aviocar.

A fleet of six EMBRAER EMB.111AN Bandeirantes was bought from Brazil for delivery from 1977. To the Chilean Navy the type is known as the P-111. The P-111's formed an alternative for embargoed American Lockheed P-2E Neptunes which were withheld by the Carter administration during the Pinochet years.

The Bandeirantes, like 265 seen here, can be armed with 70 mm rockets if need be and are tasked with the shorter tanged maritime reconaissance missions. Operating unit is Escuadrón de Exploración Aeromarítima VP-1 (Vuelo de Patrullaje).

The Chilean Navy is one of the operators of the Lockheed P-3 Orion. Eight P-3A's were taken over from the US Navy during the early 1990's. Of these, five underwent a substantial avionics modernisation programme following which they are known as P-3ACH and like the P-111's are being flown by VP-1. In contrast to the P-111, the longer-legged Orion takes the patrol assignments furthest removed from Chile's coast. 

Aircraft serialled 407 used to be 151384 with the US Navy. 

Training helicopter pilots as well as light transport is the domain of the Bell 206. Squadron HU-1 (Helicopter Utilitaire) flies a mix of seven 206's of various origins and sub types, this example 38 being a Bell 206B.