National Squadron / Escuadra Nacional
The National Squadron [Escuadra Nacional] has its home port in Valparaiso and is composed of combat logistical support and surface ocean-going vessels. Units of the squadron have capacity to operate on the high seas, exerting the supervision and control of the sea, to the edge of the 200-mile which comprises the exclusive economic zone of Chile.It protects also the national interests in the ocean, Easter Island and Juan Fernández archipelago island Territories. In support of the foreign policy of the State, the ships of the squadron participate in international efforts to maintain peace and stability, in the regions where the interests of Chile are present.
In the 1990s the Escuadra Nacional was a small force of four County class destroyers and four Leander class frigates. Despite the average age of the ships (35 years) they were well maintained and kept in good working order. They all had sustained major refits which enhanced significantly their performance, specially in the weapon system area and electronics. All of the Fleet ships used a C3I system, called SP100, completely developed in Chile by Sisdef using COTS equipments like Intel x86 chips and the code has been written in ADA following international standards. The exact characteristics of the system are not well known by the public but it can assumed to include complete data links between all of the Fleet units. Two of the former County destroyers have seen their SeaSlug systems removed and their helicopter decks extended transforming them in practice in Helicopter Destroyers. This is a poor substitute to the carrier the Navy desired, but still represents an increase of capability to be reckoned with. The more serious drawback of these ships is the age of their engines which are difficult to maintain. Maximum speed has been reported has been around 26 knots and not the original 30 knots.
The Fleet seemed to operate all together or in two task forces of a DLG, a DLH and a couple of frigates escorts, as a way to balance the capabilities of the ships. The air defense of the fleet is assured by the SeaSlug system on the medium to long range and by the IAI Barak system for the short range. This should represent an adequate defense against foreseeable foes.
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