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Air Force - Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Modernization

Despite sustained growth as Latin America's third-largest economy, Argentina still operates one of the most ancient fleets of combat aircraft. The Argentine Air Force often made costly and incoherent purchases of a wide array of equipment.

Argentina used to have the largest aircraft industry among Latin America countries. A number of factors such as not maintaining objectives and policies over time undermined its consolidation and were instrumental in losing its leader position.

The Air Force operated a varied fleet of aircraft types fulfilling a number of conventional military roles (air defense, interdiction, close air support, tactical transport, reconnaissance, training, electronic warfare, etc.) as well as several other related to its civil aviation rle or collateral responsibilities (airline transport, navaid calibration, forest fire fighting, SAR, MEDEVAC, aerobatics, sports soaring, glider towing, etc.).

FAA aircraft are of a mixed origin, although the bulk of the inventory was made up by second-hand models purchased abroad (mostly from the United States and France; but also from Israel, the Netherlands and Russia) and upgraded locally with foreign components and assistance. A diminishing number of types were designed and built by FAA's former manufacturing unit; while a number of foreign models were also built locally by private firms such as Chincul (Piper pistons), RACA (Hughes helicopters) and Aero Boero (pistons of their own design).

Major aircraft in the air force inventory included a total of eight British-manufactured Canberra B-62s and T-64s, acquired during the early 1970s, which made up the force's single bomber squadron. At least 30 IA-58 Pucars manufactured by Argentina's state-controlled Military Aircraft Factory (Fbrica Militar de Aviones) comprised two counterinsurgency squadrons. In the mid-1970s these aircraft were employed against antigovernment guerrillas fighting in the northwestern provinces. As of late 1983 an additional 100 of the twin-turboprop aircraft had been ordered by the government. By mid-1984 most of that order was believed to have been filled.

A number of Morane- Saulnier MS-760 Paris Ills, first delivered in the late 1950s and used for counter-insurgency missions and training in the mid-1980s, were being replaced by Argentina's new IA-63 Pampa jet trainer. In mid-1984 the air force had over 60 of the new models on order; deliveries were expected to begin in 1986. The air force's single squadron of attack helicopters, which was used for counterinsurgency, was based at Moron (in Buenos Aires Province). The squadron was composed of at least 12 Hughes 500M Defenders and six Bell UH-1H armed helicopters. Most of the air force's armed helicopters were acquired in the late 1960s and early 1970s when political violence was on the increase. A helicopter squadron used for search-and-rescue missions in mountainous regions was made up of five Arospatiale SA-315B Lamas.

Missiles in the air force inventory included R-530 air-to-air missiles as well as AS-il, AS-12, and Kingfisher air-tosurface missiles. Some of the Mirage 5P fighters were believed to be fitted for Exocets, even though no missiles were officially reported in the service's inventory. Following the South Atlantic War, the air force also acquired a number of French-manufactured Durandal anti-runway/anti-shelter bombs.

Southern Cone air force modernization is asymmetrical. By the lae 1990s the Chilean Air Force (FACh) had become perhaps the most balanced and capable air force in the region. Its budgets had declined, but less than those of neighboring air forces. Funds for acquisitions had not declined. They are independent of the regular FACh budget and not subject to normal Chilean congressional oversight.

Argentina had done little to recapitalize its armed forces since the end of military rule in 1983. This has significantly weakened the Argentine Air Force (FAA). While the FAA is modernizing to some extent, years of austerity reduced its effectiveness. The Argentine government showed no interest in reordering its economic priorities in order to upgrade the FAA's capabilities.

In the aviation arena, it is important to mention the procurement of new civil-use radars (eleven 2-D radars acquired from the Argentine company INVAP) and military-use radars (four 3-D type), as well as the upgrading of key area control centers (ACC) to reinforce national air-space surveillance and control capabilities. It is worth noting that the technology presently applied dates back to the 1970s. Hence, though the necessary technical upgrading has been made to render it operational, the modernization of equipment was considered imperative.

Also in this year 2007, a phased action plan was launched to recover in a 5-year period 100% of aviation capabilities for all three Services, in the following priority order: 1) Transport aircraft, 2) Liaison and training aircraft and helicopters, and 3) fighterbombers. The plan implied a total expenditure of $819 million pesos, and provided for not only the upgrading of air means but also infrastructure, tools, technical handbooks and related professional training.

Moreover, the implementation of a military airworthiness regulation for the Armed Forces aircraft that perform operations in the civilian sphere was instructed for the purposes of certifying them according to similar requirements as those set forth by the aviation authority for civilian aircraft. This was further enhanced with the drafting of guidelines for licensing military crewmembers and technical personnel who operate or perform maintenance duties on aircraft used for purposes other than their defense-specific tasks. Such licensing guidelines were consistent with civilian regulations, thus specifying similar requirements and training.

The US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Argentina for T-6C+ Texan aircraft, training, and support. The estimated cost is $300 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on July 29, 2016. The Government of Argentina requested a possible sale of twenty-four (24) T-6C+ Texan trainer aircraft, spare engines, initial spare parts, support equipment, communications equipment, studies and surveys, contract logistics support and technical services.

The Argentine military has embarked on an ambitious path toward modernizing its military materiel. The proposed sale will revitalize Argentina's capability to train its pilots and fulfill border control missions, especially along its porous northern border. The Argentine Air Force (AAF) will use the enhanced capability to redevelop a professional pilot corps and as a deterrent to illicit activity. The AAF is very experienced working with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 family of engines which they currently have on their T-34, King Air, and Cessna Caravan aircraft. Given the logistical commonalities with the aircraft already in its fleet, the AAF will be able to support and field the new T-6C+s.

The T6-C Texan II training aircraft from the United States, which can also be used in boosting border control and combating drugs. The news prompted controversy, due to the fact that the Argentine aircraft manufacturer Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) plans to resume production of the similar domestic aircraft Pampa III. Meanwhile, the country's government signaled its interest in the US, Italian and French analogs of the Argentine plane.

Argentina's Ministry of Defense was considering the purchase of M-346 Master aircraft from Italian manufacturer Aermacchi. The cost of the plane stands at 30 million US dollars, twice as much than that of the Pampa III. As an alternative to the M-346 Master, Argentinean authorities considered buying 24 American-made T6-C Texan II planes, worth about 300 million dollars.

The US reacting to Argentina's request regarding the estimated cost documentation does not mean that the sale [of the Texan planes] will take place. It is even possible that Argentina is poised to start talks with a third country, and in this case, it can request such documentation from the US so as to put pressure on a potential supplier.

Transport Aircraft

Transports, composing five squadrons, included about 12 Boeing 707s and Lockheed C-130s. Three Lockheed L-100 Hercules were added in 1983. Also included in the transport fleet were at least 12 IA-50 Guaranis manufactured in Argentina in the late 1960s. Some Guaranis reportedly were also used on photoreconnaissance missions. The Gates Learjet was also used for aerial reconnaissance.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 18 October 2011 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Argentina for commercial-off-the-shelf avionics upgrade of five C-130H aircraft, as well as associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $166 million. Argentina uses its C-130 in humanitarian and Antarctic missions.

The Government of Argentina requested a possible purchase of commercial-off-the-shelf avionics upgrade of five (5) C-130H aircraft that includes minor Class IV modifications, ground handling equipment, repair and return, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, tools and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, programmed depot maintenance, US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of program support.






as of 2002

Aero Boero 150 Glider tug PG-451 2000? 1 1
Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama SAR H-61 to H-67 1973 10 4
Beechcraft B45 Mentor Trainer E-001 to E-096 1958 90 30
Bell 212 Twin Two Twelve SAR, liaison, Antarctic support H-81 to H-90 1978 11 5
Bell UH-1H Iroquois SAR, liaison, forest fire fighting H-09 to H-19 1967 14 9
Boeing 707 Transport, electronic warfare TC-91 to TC-94, T-95 to T-96, VR-21, LV-WXL 1976 7 5
Boeing 308 Chinook Transport, Antarctic support H-91 to H-93 1980 3 1
Blkow Phoebus Glider V-20 ~1 1?
Centrair ASW 20FL Glider V-26 ~1 1?
Cessna 182 Skylane Liaison PG-341 to PG-380 1966 40 23
Chincul AR-25-235 Pawnee Biplaza Crop sprayer trainer PG-433 to PG-434 1984 2 2
Dassault Mirage 5P Fighter C-603 to C-636 1982 10 7
Dassault Mirage IIIBJ/CJ Weapons tests C-701 to C-722 1983 22 1
Dassault Mirage IIIBE/DA/EA Fighter trainer/fighter I-001 to I-021 1973 21 13
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter Transport T-81 to T-87, T90, LV-JPX 1968 12 7?
Eiri Avion PIK 20 Glider V-25 ~1 1
Embraer EMB-312 Tucano Trainer E-101 to E-130 1985 30 26
FMA IA-46 Ranquel Glider tug PG-421 to PG-424 4 3
FMA IA-50 G-II Transport, reconnaissance F-31 to F-35, T-110 to T-129, TX-01 1962 29 4
FMA IA-63 Pampa Trainer E-801 to E-816+, EX-01 to EX-03 1984 31 13
FMA IA-58 Pucar Ground attack, trainer A-501 to A-608, AX-01 to AX-06 1974 101 37
Fokker F.27 Friendship Transport T-41 to T-45, TC-71 to TC-79 1968 15 11
Fokker F.28 Fellowship Transport TC-51 to TC-55 1975 5 4
Grob G 103 Twin Astir Glider, trainer V-05 to V-07 ~3 2
Grob Standard Astir II Glider V-31 to V-32 ~2 2?
Hughes 369/500 Trainer, liaison, lucha contraincendios H-20 to H-46, PGH-01 to PGH-04 1968 32 18
IAI Dagger T/Finger IIIA Fighter trainer/fighter C-401 to C-439 1978 39 14
Learjet 35A Reconnaissance, radioaid calibration T-21 to T-25 1977 6 5
Learjet 60 Transport T-10 1999 1 1
LET L-13 Blanik Glider, trainer V-01 to V-03 ~3 1
Lockheed C-130/L-100 Hercules Transport TC-56 to TC-70, TC-100 1968 16 12
Lockheed Martin A/TA-4AR Fighting Hawk Fighter trainer/fighter C-901 to C-936 1997 36 36
Morane-Saulnier MS-760 Paris Fighter trainer E-201 to E-248 1959 48 13
Pezetel SZD-30 Pirat II Glider V-15 to V-18 ~4 4
Piper PA-28-236 Dakota Trainer, liaison PG-441 to PG-450 1980 10 10
Piper PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV Trainer, liaison PG-311 to PG-313 1980 3 2
Piper PA-31P-425 Navajo Transport, liaison VR-22 2 1
Piper PA-32-220T Seneca III Trainer, liaison PG-321 to PG-323 1980 3 3
Rockwell Aerocommander 500 Liaison T-131 to T-144 1968 16 11
Rockwell Sabre 75A Transport T-11 1975 1 1
Schempp-Hirth Janus Glider V-40 1980 1 1?
Schempp-Hirth Nimbus Glider V-35 1980 1 1?
Schleicher Ka-7 Rhnadler Glider V-10 ~1 1?
Sukhoi Su-29EB Aerobatics AC-101 to AC-108 1997 8 8

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Page last modified: 25-08-2016 12:37:53 ZULU