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Argentina's Fabrica Argentina de Aviones SA [Fadea] disclosed plans to develop a new trainer, some 25 years after it began work on its signature IA-63 Pampa. The IA-73 is a light military training aircraft being designed and assembled in Argentina by FAdeA S.A. and scheduled to enter service by 2015. In December 2009, FAdeA S.A. started the project assessment phase. The new IA-73 UNASUR [Union of South American Nations] was approved by the company's board of directors in late August 2010, and the company soon began discussions with the Argentine air force.

The Argentine Air Force (AAF) increasingly faces challenges in maintaining and sustaining trainer aircraft. The current trainer aircraft used by the AAF face obsolescence issues and decreased serviceability. 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. In order to meet Air Force requirements and revive the domestic aircraft industry, an indigenous basic trainer aircraft project was undertaken.

The IA-73 was aimed at first replacing the Beechcraft B45 Mentor ab initio trainers in Argentine service. It was also expected to later succeed the Embraer EMB-312 Tucanos operated at the air force's Córdoba flight school. Argentina's air force, army and navy planned to merge their training activities, so the IA-73 was tailored to replace other fixed-wing assets, such as the Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor.

The intention was to develop a single-platform training package, and to become a training systems provider attuned to South American training aircraft needs.

FAdeA planned to to achieve a first flight in early 2013. The company expected to launch production of the type in late 2014 or early 2015. The aircraft, developed in four countries, were to be manufactured in Argentina. The IA-73 UNASUR I project includes Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela.

In July 2014 Janes reported that Ecuador planned to purchase 18 IA-73 UNASUR I training aircraft from Fábrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA), Ecuadorian Minister of Defence Maria Fernanda Espinosa has officially confirmed. According to the Ministry of Defence, the aircraft will be procured for basic training of new Air Force pilots, and is a part of a larger modernisation process of for the service.

The total program cost of 52 aircraft for Argentina (50 production units and 2 prototype units) is estimated around $115 million then year dollars (actual amounts spent in prior years and estimated expenditures in future years, based on current assumptions about inflation rates and annual production rates in the out-years). The estimated development cost is around $10 to $12 million.

It is estimated at $1.8 million then-year dollars per plane in a 50- aircraft program (2 development and 50 production aircraft as currently projected by the Argentine Air Force) estimated operational in 2015. By IA-73 project Military Investment Data Base (BIM) (Banco de Inversión Militar) as previous instance to include IA-73 project into the national budget. Project is funded by the National Treasury. Cash flow through 15 year project, after all IA-73 units are released to service and “Mentor” and “Tucano” airplanes are removed from operational service. A Joint venture strategy could also be applicable.

Among the turboprop basic trainer aircraft in the same IA-73 segment it can be mentioned the Alenia Aermacchi SF-260TP and the Grob G-120TP.

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Page last modified: 07-01-2015 18:41:00 ZULU