Tag Archives: Skyhawk

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)


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)


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)

The end for A-4 Skyhawk in Israel

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Sunday 13 December said good bye to the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk after 48 years of service. A formation flight flew over all IAF bases on Sunday morning. The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master takes over the A-4’s training duties.

The Skyhawks flew for the final time from Hatzerim airbase, witnessed by many active and former IAF-personnel. Virtually every pilot in the IAF flew the A-4 at one time or another, as the type was reponsible for pilot training over the last decades. It was applauded for its reliability during the farewell ceremony.

The first Skyhawk – called Ayit ( Eagle) in Hebrew – arrived in Israel on 29 December 1967 when the first four were unloaded from a ship in Haifa harbour. The type saw combat during various conflicts between Israel and its neighbouring states from 1967 until 1970. During the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Skyhawks flew 1,000 operational sorties.

Two seater A-4 Skyhawks were the most numerous in flight training. (Image © IAF)
Two seater A-4 Skyhawks were the most numerous in flight training. (Image © IAF)

Flight School
In the nineties, 102 The Flying Tigers squadron, a long time Skyhawk user, was transformed into a flight school for future pilots and weapons operators. A large number of Skyhawks was sold to new users, among them various companies providing training assets to Western air forces.

On 9 July 2014, the first Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Masters arrived in Israel. Just months later, a new Flight Training Center for the new, Italian made trainer jet was ready for use, marking the beginning of the end for the A-4.

Close to 20 of 30 M-346 trainer jets ordered, have been delivered so far. Last June, the first student pilots earned their wings on the Skyhawk’s replacement.

The A-4 now only remains in use in Argentina and Brazil. The first of 12 Skyhawks was re-delivered to the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil) earlier this year after being upgraded.

© 2015 Airheadfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A set of Skyhawks awaits take off clearance. (Image © IAF

A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A former IAF Skyhawk, now working for a civil contractor. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Shandong pilot training lifts off with Cessna

Pilot training in the Shandong province in China will get a boost with new wings being ordered with the Cessna Aircraft Company. Following an initial order in April for two Cessna 127 Skyhawks, Shandong Hairuo General Aviation has placed a follow-on deal for another six aircraft of the type on 24 July 2015.

Shandong Hairuo General Aviation is based in Binzhou city in the Shandong province. The company is an authorized sales representative and an authorized customer service facility for Cessna single-engine aircraft in China. It currently operates a fleet of four Skyhawks and is looking to provide training for personal, commercial and airline pilot licenses with the additional eight 172s coming in.

The Skyhawk is one of the most popular aircraft in the world, with 48,000 in service since 1955.

Source: Cessna Aircraft Company
Featured image: A Cessna 172 Skyhawk in flight (Image © Cessna Aircraft Company)

“Canadian and German Aggressor Air Force to gain F-16s”

In the week that Discovery Air Defence Services (DA Defence) announced its 50,000th hour of air combat training for the Canadian Armed Forces and allies, word on the street is that soon the private contracter will add Lockheed Martin F-16s to its fleet of 160 aircraft, to fly aggressor missions.

The company has been providing the Royal Canadian Air Force with adversary training since 2005, flying Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jets, then still under the former name of Top Aces. Moreover, the German Air Force trains against Discovery’s A-4 Skyhawks flying from Wittmund Airbase in the north. Mesa in Arizona (USA) stays to be the main operating base for the mother company, Discovery Air.

Watch the then still called Top Aces Alpha Jets taking off

(Footage © Discovery Air)

5th generation fighter
A change in the air fleet to a fourth generation fighter such as the F-16 is logic. As Garry Venman, VP of Business Development and Government Relations at DA Defence puts it: “Canadian and international air forces recognize our value proposition as they move towards 5th generation fighter aircraft. They need a proven adversary service to train for tomorrow’s threats, preserve valuable fleet life and save defence budget dollars.”

Discovery Air has about 850 people at work. Apart from flying military missions as part of DA Defence they fly air ambulance services, airborne fire services, provide helicopter operations of varios sorts, do fixed-wing air charter services plus giving their partners support, maintenance, overhaul, modification and more.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by Discovery Air
Featured image (top): A Discovery Air Defence Services Alpha Jet flying in formation with a Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet (Image © Discovery Air)

New lease of life for Brazilian Skyhawks

A true timeless classic: the A-4 Skyhawk was given a new lease of life today in Brazil. The first of 12 Skyhawks was re-delivered to the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brasil) after being upgraded to A-4KU Skyhawk II (locally known as AF-1B Falcão) standard by Embraer.

The upgrade brings the Skyhawks to a standard similar to that of the air force’s F-5 Tigers and involves the installation of HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick) cockpit controls, a Head Up Display (HUD), two MDF displays in the cockpit, plus a new Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) system. The modification program started in 2009, but was struck by many delays.

The new equipment, along with structural updates, will make the Skyhawks continue on until 2025. Embraer’s modernization program also includes supplying briefing and debriefing stations that are already being used for the training and proficiency of pilots of the VF-1 Falcão Squadron, in order to improve their use, to reduce costs, and to bring greater effectiveness to mission planning and execution.

“For the Brazilian Navy, the modernization of the AF-1 aircraft at Embraer is another important step in capacitating base of Brazil’s defense industry, and the results achieved will allow Naval Aviation to operate an aircraft with state-of-the-art sensors and equipment, representing a large forward leap in the Navy’s capacity,” said Fleet Admiral Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira, Navy Commander.

 A non-upgraded A-4 Skyhawk lands on board the São Paulo. (Image © Marinha do Brasil)
A non-upgraded A-4 Skyhawk lands on board the São Paulo. (Image © Marinha do Brasil)

The update is quite remarkable,as the first flight of the A-4 Skyhawk happened over 60 years ago, on 22 June 1954. The type also still serves as a jet trainer in Israel, however not for much longer.

The twelve Skyhawks – nine single seaters and three two seaters – are deployable on board Brazil’s sole aircraft carrier São Paulo. However, the carrier – formerly ‘Foch’ in service with the French Navy – suffers from serviceability issues. The Skyhawks in question are former Kuwait Air Force aircraft that fled Kuwait when Iraq invaded the country in 1991.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The first modified Skyhawk II, seen during the hand over.(Image © Marinha do Brasil)