United States Joins Latin American Partners at International Air Show in Chile
By Dialogo April 07, 2016
The U.S. Air Force's (USAF) F-22 Raptors and a B-52 bomber delighted crowds as they flew over Santiago, Chile during the air show at the 19th International Air and Space Fair (FIDAE), which took place from March 29th to April 3rd. The event was organized by the Chilean Air Force (FACh), and included the participation of 146 combat, commercial, and military training aircraft from 60 countries.
FIDAE is considered the largest trade show if its kind in Latin America, and for its 19th edition it was held at the FACh’s Pudahuel 2nd Air Brigade facilities, covering an area of 9,508 square meters. The multi-sector fair focused on displaying technological developments and advances in aviation, such as airplane maintenance, airport equipment services, space technology, and domestic security and defense. For this year's edition, FIDAE brought together 572 exhibitors from 46 countries. It is the first time the fair included delegations from Mexico, Thailand, New Zealand, Panama, and El Salvador.
“[FIDAE] has become an obligatory rite of passage for all aeronautical companies around the world. They know that if they want to have a presence in Latin America, they have to come through here,” said Air Force Colonel Fernando Silva, FIDAE’s Executive Director, on March 29th during a press conference.
The trade show had a strong commercial component demonstrated over four days, targeting the consumer public as well as military and government authorities from various visiting countries interested in learning about innovations, updating their technology, and investing. During the last two days of the event, FIDAE opened its doors to the community with a family-friendly air show. In total, 110,000 visitors attended the exhibition.
Within the fair, “there are a series of relationships, not just financial, but also technological, which will help this area develop not only in Chile but around the world,” said Chilean Defense Minister José Antonio Gómez during his tour of the fair on press day.
“We are satisfied because we believe that this fair made a real contribution, not just to defense but also in civilian terms,” said Air Force Colonel Fernando Silva.
Attractions and innovations
The United States had one of the most impressive showings at FIDAE. The delegation was led by U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, together with over 65 USAF service members. The U.S. pavilion included over 95 companies who exhibited their products.
The USAF had two static exhibits featuring the C-130 Hercules, the C-17 Globemaster, and the MQ-1B Predator. The USAF “Wings of Blue” Parachute Team also participated in demonstrations, and teams from the Texas National Guard conducted activities within the framework of a cooperation program with Chile.
The F-22 Raptor performed precision aerial exercises to show the capabilities of this twin-engine, single-seater, fifth-generation fighter jet in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. The F-22 was designed with stealth technology, which makes it difficult for radars to detect. The other highly anticipated exhibit was a flyover on April 2nd by the B-52 Stratofortress, a subsonic, strategic, long-range bomber with eight reaction engines that was used for nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq since its launch in 1954. In addition to flying over Santiago, the giant aircraft also demonstrated its in-flight refueling capability with an F-5 Tigre III, belonging to the Chilean Air Force.
During the air shows, the audience’s attention was also drawn to demonstrations by Peruvian Air Force’s KT1 basic training aircraft, the Airbus 350, and demonstrations by South American aerial acrobatics squadrons: the FACh's “Halcones” (Hawks) High Acrobatics Squadron; the Brazilian Air Force’s "Da Fumaça" (The Smoke) Squadron; and the Argentine civilian team, “Hangar del Cielo” (Sky's Hangar). In addition to the USAF's "Wings of Blue," the FACh's Blue Beret Squardon and the women-only “Juliet Skydivers Chile” team also demonstrated their parachuting skills.
Cultural activities included Armed Forces bands, a technology fair to make science accessible to children and adolescents, and an exclusive showing of the movie, “El Vuelo del Manutara” (Manutara's Flight), which tells the story of the world-famous first flight by the FACh to Easter Island, 65 years ago. The flight lasted nearly 20 hours and successfully connected the island with the mainland.
This year’s FIDAE was the first fair in the world to permit drone flights over a limited air space. This in addition to the Latin American Conference on Remotely Piloted Systems, RPAs/UAVs (drones), and the technology outlook for the near future.
The beginnings of FIDAE date to 1980 when the Chilean Air Force celebrated its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the achievement, they created the International Air Fair (FIDA), a commercial display that hoped to become a platform for businesses in the country and the region. In 1990, the space sector was added to the fair and it became known as FIDAE.
After 36 years, the challenge continues. “It is a large commitment to development we have been working on for many years in order to secure our place as the premier fair of the Americas in air and space,” said the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Air Force, General Jorge Robles, during a conference with accredited media outlets.
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