Former Chilean Air Force Commander Brigadier General Fernando Matthei confirmed Chile openly supported Britain during the Falklands conflict exchanging crucial intelligence information for weapons and equipment.
Brigadier General Matthei who was a member of the ruling Military Junta together with General Augusto Pinochet revealed in an extensive interview with Santiago newspaper "La Tercera", that "cooperation lasted during the whole of the war, since the moment Argentina took the Falklands in April 1982".
Although in the past there have been reports of Chilean collaboration with Britain in 1982, and former Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher publicly expressed her gratitude to General Pinochet when he was in London, this is the first time a former member of the Junta admits such support.
However Mr. Matthei points out that the whole operation was mostly done with the Chilean Air Force, and that he kept General Pinochet virtually in the cold about what really was happening.
"I simply didn't tell him a word, because if the operation was ever discovered Pinochet could legitimately argue he knew nothing about it", indicated Mr. Matthei.
Apparently the original request came from Britain through an intelligence officer named "Sydney Edwards".
According to the former Air Force Commander Mr. Edwards offered to supply the Chilean Air Force with Hawker Hunter aircraft at very accessible prices, and to be immediately delivered. The package also included a long range radar, misiles, and Canberra reconnaissance aircraft equipped with cameras plus bombers.
Mr. Matthei said he decided to accept the British offer because in one of his speeches former Argentine dictator suggested that after the Falklands; the next objective would be Chile. Both countries had at the time pending border disputes and in late 1978 almost went to war over islands in the extreme south. A last minute direct mediation from the Pope prevented the attack.
"After the war we kept the special Canberra, the radars, misiles and other aircraft. The British received all the information they requested, and we were both happy with the agreement", said Brigadier General Matthei.
The only known incident during the war which involved Chile was the forced landing and destruction of a British helicopter with SAS commandos in the extreme south of the country. Apparently the commandos were involved in an operation to destroy Exocet misiles in Argentine territory b