Tag Archives: Argentine Air Force

Argentina desperately seeking Mirage

Cash-low Argentina is so desperately seeking new fighter jets, that it is looking to put budget priced French fighter jets from the 1970s back in the air.

The defence minister of the Latin-American nation recently paid a visit to France, trying to have Paris agree to an affordable price tag for 12 Dassault-made fighter jets retired by the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air). Buenos Aires is looking for six Mirage F1s plus six Mirage 2000s, or a dozen of either one of the types. A 2013 deal with Spain seems to have hit the sand barrier somewhere.

FAM IA 58 Pucará

To Argentina’s main conservative daily newspaper, La Nacion, Mr. Julio Martinez also said he is hoping that France would like to provide new engines so that the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina) is able to bring 20 IA 58 Pucará ground attack and counter-insurgency aircraft back into the sky. Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FAM) produced 110 of these two-engine propeller aircraft between 1976 and 1986, with the type still operational in both Argentine and Uruguay.

An Argentinian made  Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucará, here in service with the Uruguayan Air Force (Image © Ralph Blok)
An Argentinian made Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucará, here in service with the Uruguayan Air Force (Image © Ralph Blok)

F-16

Despite its known good operational status and relatively low cost for flight hours and maintenance, Buenos Aires is said not to seek purchase of the US-made Lockheed Martin F-16 that is flown – among others – by neighbouring Chile. An official reason for not buying the F-16 other that “not in the interest of the nation” has not been given. For some time even a wild story circulated that frustrated policy makers in the Argentinian capital were looking for a Russian bomber solution.

A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A-4s similar to this former Israeli example were grounded in Argentina in January 2016 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A-4 Fightinghawk

The Fuerza Aérea Argentina has currently no fighter jets on strenght, after the 22 remaining McDonnell Douglas A-4AR Fightinghawks and three (O)A-4ARs were grounded at Villa Reynolds Airbase in January 2016 because of the lack of spare parts and other airworthiness issues. Earlier the service decommissioned its Dassault Mirage III and IAI Fingers / AMD M5 Dagger units at Tandil Airbase. That leaves the nation with only 32 IA 58 Pucarás on frontline duty, of which many are down for maintenance.

An AT-63 Pampa II (Image © Fábrica Argentina de Aviones)
An AT-63 Pampa II (Image © Fábrica Argentina de Aviones)

Pampa

The about two dozen FMA IA 63 Pampas (35 ordered) are not suited for combat, and the 14 remaining Embraer EMB-312 Tucanos can only be used for limited ground support and counter-insurgency operations.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Retired French Air Force Mirage F1s might be put to new use in Argentine skies (Image © Marcel Burger)

Sunset for classic Mirage in Argentina

The Fuerza Aerea Argentina has waved good bye to its small fleet of classic Dassault Mirage 3 and 5 fighter jets on Sunday 29 November during an airshow and ceremony at Tandil airbase, south Buenos Aires . The Mirage served the country for 43 years. It’s retirement leaves only the A-4 Skyhawk as a credible airborne capability.

Argentina, along with Pakistan, was the last country in the world operating the Mirage 3, a type that amazingly saw its first flight on 17 November 1956 and was once operated in large number by air forces around the world. Pakistan is still flying the type. In Swizterland, a civilian operated Mirage 3 still graces the skoes.

Argentina poised its Mirage into combat during the 1982 Falklands War, when one of them feel victim to a British Harrier firing a Sidewinder air-to-air missile. Over the last years, the fleet was reduced to just six aircraft. They flew their last operational sorties last September during an exercise.

Replacement

Argentina has been seeking a true replacement for the Mirage, eyeing the Saab Gripen, Chinese J-10 and most recently the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir block 60. No signature has been inked though, as the UK opposed a Saab-deal and financial difficulties in Novermber prevented the Kfir-deal from being signed.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Argentine Herc upgrade slowly progressing

The upgrade of five Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport and tanker aircraft of the Argentine Air Force is slowly progressing with L-3 Communications in the United States. Rockwell Collins announced this week it has been contracted for flight avionics by L-3.

“Argentine Air Force pilots will experience greater situational awareness and communications capabilities with the new avionics onboard these aircraft,” says Troy Brunk, vice president and general manager of Airborne Solutions for Rockwell Collins. The Rockwell Collins Flight2 avionics system will provide the Fuerza Aérea Argentina C-130/KC-130 aircraft with new communications, naviagion, surveillance and air traffic management systems required for today’s airspace operations.

Included in the avionics upgrade is a full glass cockpit with new primary flight displays, Required Navigation Performance / Area Navigation flight management system with High Altitude Release Point/Computed Air Release Point precision air drop software. Additional equipment includes an autopilot, communication and SATCOM radios, APN-241 precision ground mapping radar integration, navigation sensors and surveillance systems including Traffic Collision Avoidance System, Terrain Awareness and Warning System and digital map.

The first aircraft integration and installation being performed by L-3 Platform Integration, the prime contractor for this upgrade program, is at its facility in Waco, Texas. The remaining four aircraft will be upgraded at the FAdeA modification facility in Cordoba, Argentina, with L-3 support.

Despite the official US State Department announcement of the upgrade contract in October 2011 speaks of C-130Hs, the Fuerza Aérea Argentina flies a mixture of types, comprising of one KC-130 tanker aircraft and four Hercules dedicated airlifters of the L-100-30, C-130B and C-130H types.

Source: Rockwell Collins, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Argentine Air Force C-130 on a medevac mission at the Marambio Base in the Antarctics in January 2015 (Image © Fuerza Aérea Argentina)

The first ever landing of an Argentine Hercules, a C-130E, on Marambio Base permafrost in the Antarctics on 11 April  1970. Earlier attempts on four other days in that month were aborted due to bad weather. The aircraft with registration TC-61 was from 1 Air Brigade, flying in from Río Gallegos, transporting military personnel and 3,500 kilograms of food plus mail.  (Image © Fuerza Aérea Argentina)
The first ever landing of an Argentine Hercules, a C-130E back then, on Marambio Base permafrost in the Antarctics on 11 April 1970. Earlier attempts on four other days in that month were aborted due to bad weather. The aircraft with registration TC-61 was from 1 Air Brigade, flying in from Río Gallegos, transporting military personnel and 3,500 kilograms of food plus mail. (Image © Fuerza Aérea Argentina)

Argentine Air Force beefing up lighter fleet

The Argentine Air Force has beefed up its lighter fleet units in 2014. Just before the end of the year the Fuerza Aérea Argentina commissioned 10 Grob G120TP-A light utility and training aircraft. Two new Bell 412s joined VII Brigada Aérea at Mariano Moreno Airport near Buenos Aires on 8 January 2015.

The white painted Bell 412s will be used for search-and-rescue ops and replace the aging Bell 212s of the I Escuadrón Búsqueda y Salvamento (1st Search and Rescue Squadron). The 212s have often been put at the disposal of the United Nations, explaining their overall white livery.

Source: Fuerza Aérea Argentina
Featured image: One of two newly delivered Bell 412s of the Argentine Air Force on 8 January 2015 (Image © Fuerza Aérea Argentina)

Argentina gets up a British nose with Russian bombers

Argentina is catching the eye these days for some extraordinary dance moves. Not the marvelous tango, but a Russian folk dance at the pay-back party seems to be the case. Here’s the tale of the Typhoon against the Fencer.

This autumn it came to light that Argentina was denied even to negotiate to buy up to 24 SAAB JAS 39 Gripen fighters by the British government. Since the Swedish planes are made and marketed with backing and cooperation of BAe Systems (the former British Aerospace), London has the power to block the export of a “typical” Swedish product.

Falkland Islands
But because of the war over the Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas 32 years ago and the still ongoing political statements made every once in a while from Argentina, the British government doesn’t want to help selling stuff that it fears might someday bite back. With only a quartet of Royal Air Force Typhoons at QRA, a Voyager tanker and two Sea King choppers at RAF Base Mount Pleasant on East Falkland, other modern jets like the Gripen might just cause to much trouble if the British-Argentinian discussion over the islands turns sour.

12 Sukhoi Su-24
In a rather surprising move the Argentinians might now actually go for something that looks potentially more threatening: knock on the rent-a-plane store in Russia. Not your everyday sports plane either: rumour has it 12 Sukhoi Su-24s (NATO-name “Fencer”) are about to make their way to Fuerza Aérea Argentina in return for food supplies. With Moscow already being annoyed by NATO’s projection towards Ukraine in – what the Kremlin sees as interference – the Russian leadership is very likely not to put up any political barriers if Buenos Aires says “si”.

RAF Mount Pleasant, homebase of the British air assets at the Falklands (Image (CC) Donald Morrison)
RAF Mount Pleasant, homebase of the British air assets at the Falklands (Image (CC) Donald Morrison)

Supersonic
Half armed the Fencers with external fuel tanks could make it to the Falklands and supersonic speed, for example from Rio Gallegos Airbase in the south of the country, drop their bombs and make it back without even having to refuel. A fully armed Fencer doesn’t make it further than about 400 miles (630 km), but if the Argentina Air Force is able to use its KC-130 for in-flight “gas” it will be fuel on the fire of British worries.

Moreover, the Su-24 is quite capable of not only to bring drop-and-forget bombs, but also advanced air-to-air and air-to-ship missiles. True, the Argentine Air Force’s Mirage IIIs can do it too and maybe even with more finesse, but they are getting older, less airworthy and can carry less stuff on long-range missions. Neither the Mirages or the possible Su-24s have to fear much apart from the less than a handful Typhoons at Mount Pleasant. The UK’s Rapier ground-based air-defence missile system won’t make a difference if attacking planes stay above 15,000 feet and out of 5 miles (8 km) radius.

Su-27
Moscow’s in tensions about the possible lease of the Fencers might even be to have Argentina opening up to even more sophisticated hardware. A future scenario where a pack of Su-24s are escorted by Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighters is not entirely unthinkable, even though it still seems far-fetched at this moment.

Super Etendard
What is a fact is that Buenos Aires is in big need of new air assets. The current very much aging fighter and attack fleet is no match for the modern battlefield. The Argentine Navy Exocet-equipped Dassault Super Etendards might have caused havoc amongst the Royal Navy in 1982 and might do that again, but weapon systems of the British air and naval forces have advanced ever since.

Something new
It is commonly known that the Argentina Air Force has issues keeping it’s even less impressive fighter and attack fleet airborne. Buenos Aires feels its time for the Dassault Mirage IIIs and IAI Fingers / AMD M5 Daggers from Tandil Airbase and the McDonnell Douglas (O)A-4AR Fightinghawk (Skyhawk in the US) from Villa Reynolds Airbase to make way to something new. Russian supplied bombers – and fighters – with not so many strings attached might just make the dancing party extra interesting.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: a Sukhoi Su-24M on a snowy airbase of the Russian Central Military District (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

A Russian Air Force Su-24M getting fuel in mid-air during a training exercise in December 2014 (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
A Russian Air Force Su-24M getting fuel in mid-air during a training exercise in December 2014, soon a Argentine combination? (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)