Tag Archives: Mirage

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)

Arab coalition jets face new threat in Yemen

The combat aircraft and attack helicopters of the Arab coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen are facing a new threat. Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

Although uncertain how many of these MANPADS the Houthi soldiers have, the recent loss of a United Arab Emirates Air Force Mirage 2000-9 shows that close-air support is getting more tricky.

Downed the UAE jet

What exactly downed the French-made UAE jet with the loss of both crew is now a big question. The official statement of the Ministry of Defence in Abu Dhabi is that the aircraft had a technical malfunction and crashed into a mountain. Other sources claim that it was shot down. The latter is now supported by a recent news story in the normally well-informed British newspaper The Independent.

“SA-7 took down the jet”

According to claims made public by The Independent a Soviet-made 9K32 Strela-2 – popular known in NATO countries as SA-7 Grail – heat-seeking missile took down the jet, while the plane was flying low-level fly-by, possibly using its on-board gun against enemy positions.

Anti-aircraft guns

Until recently Houthi rebels and their allies (sometimes described as Al-Quada on the Arab Peninsula or AQAP) are known to have deployed anti-aircraft guns against Arab coalition combat aircraft, but if true the deployment of the MANPADS is a new chapter in the air-to-ground operations in the war struck Southwest Asian country. So far at least four fast jets and at least one Saudi Arabian AH-64 Apache helicopter have been lost on the Arab coalition side in the recent Yemen war.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Mirage 2000 fighter from the United Arab Emirates in 2008 (Image © Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon / USAF)

Fighter jet deals Middle East hang in the balance

Fighter jet deals worth billions of US dollars hang in the balance in the Middle East as they have been doing for a number of years, but things could be moving along now following the apparent ease between Iran and the West. Or did Kuwait and Qatar already make up their mind?

It is no secret that Kuwait is looking to purchase 28 Boeing Super Hornets to replace its fleet of older F/A-18C/D Hornets, and that Qatar has been seeking to buy up to 72 variants of Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle.

Production

Both orders would come in handy to keep production lines in the US open, particularly the Super Hornet line. A batch of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18 Growlers is now in manufacturing and after that it will likely be the end of production for the F-18 Hornet and its variants.

Unless of course Kuwait indeed orders its Super Hornets. A deal never seemed close however, and the reason could very well be that the US did not want to spoil improving relations with shia-Islam orientied Iran by supplying advanced warfare machines to opposing sunni countries such as Qatar and Kuwait.

A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Israel

That standpoint may change now that the relationship with Iran seems on its way to normalization. On the other hand however, there’s also Israel to be taken into account. That country upgrading its F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) jets and won’t be very happy to see more Arab states getting similar capabilities, also considering the fact that Saudi Arabia already has an impressive fleet of F-15s – and another 84 new-build F-15SAs (Saudi Advanced) are on their way between now and 2019. The US may be sensitive to this also.

Rafale & Typhoon

But perhaps Qatar and Kuwait have already made up their mind. Since requesting F-15s, the former in April signed to buy 24 French Dassault Rafale jets while the latter eyes 28 Italian-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets. A contract for those was rumoured to be signed last December, but still awaits signatures.

The coming months should tell if there will ever be Qatari F-15s and Kuwaiti Super Hornets. And finally, if there will ever be Iraqi Air Force Mirage 2000s, as the United Arab Emirates are reportedly looking to hand over some of their Mirages to Baghdad.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An F-15E in max ‘fuel to noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)

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

French jets respond to Paris attacks

French Air Force fighter aircaft carried out strike mission over Raqqa in Syria on Sunday, the ministry of Defense in Paris reports. The air strikes are a clear response to the attacks that killed 132 people in the French capital on Friday.

Since September 2014 and under code name Operation Chammal, French Air Force military aircraft have participated in the allied campaign against Islamic State forces. Dassault Rafale multi role fighter aircraft and Mirage 2000D strike aircraft saw use before. Soon after Friday’s attacks in Paris, the French government stated it would ‘respond appropriately’.

On Sunday, the French jets dropped over twenty bombs on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. The flights originated from airfields in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan. The strike was carried out in cooperation with US forces.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A French Mirage 2000D takes off from a base in Jordan (Image © Ministère de la Défense)