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A-4AR Fightinghawk


The Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk is a major upgrade of the A-4M Skyhawk attack aircraft developed for the Argentine Air Force.

Background

The 1982 Falklands War took a great toll on the Argentine Air Force, which lost 60 aircraft. Due to the deteriorating national economic situation and political distrust of the military, the Air Force was denied the resources needed to replace its war losses.

The supply of modern combat aircraft had been restricted since the United States had imposed an arms embargo in 1978 for human rights abuses, they were further restrictions when the United Kingdom also imposed an arms embargo in 1982. The only combat aircraft that the Air Force could obtain were ten Mirage 5Ps, transferred from the Peruvian Air Force; 19 Mirage IIICJs from Israel, veterans of the Six-Day War; and two Mirage IIIB trainers from the French Air Force.

In 1989, Carlos Menem was elected President of Argentina and quickly established a pro-United States foreign policy. Although the economic situation improved, the funds to purchase new combat aircraft like the Mirage 2000 remained unavailable.

In 1994, the United States made a counteroffer to modernize 36 ex-USMC A-4M Skyhawks in a US$282 million deal that would be carried out by Lockheed Martin and include the privatization of the Fabrica Militar de Aviones , now Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA.

Production

Argentine Air Force technicians chose 32 A-4M and 4 TA-4F airframes from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center to upgrade. The upgrade plans included:

Complete overhaul of the airframe, wires and the Pratt & Whitney J52P-408A engine

Installation of Douglas Escapac 1-G3 ejection seats

HGU-55/P helmets

Honeywell Normal Air-Garrett's OBOGS (On Board Oxygen Generation System)

Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-66V2 (ARG-1) radar

HOTAS controls and a 'glass' cockpit (3 large CRT screens)

Sextant Avionique/Thales Avionics SHUD

Litton/Northrop Grumman LN-100G inertial navigation system

MIL-STD-1553B data bus

Two General Dynamics Information Systems AN/AYK-14 mission computers

Northrop Grumman AN/ALR-93 (V)1 Radar warning receiver

AN/ALQ-126B jammer

ALR-39 chaff/flare dispenser

IFF AN/APX-72

The contract stipulated that 18 airframes would be refurbished at the Lockheed-Martin Plant in Palmdale, California and the rest in Cordoba, Argentina at FMA.

At least ten TA-4J and A-4F airframes for use as spare parts, eight additional engines, and a new A-4AR simulator were also delivered.

Operational history

The Fightinghawks, having received Air Force serials C-901 to C-936, saw their first group arrive in Argentina on 18 December 1997 and the first "Argentine" A-4AR was rolled out on 3 August 1998 at Cordoba. The last one, number 936, was delivered to the Air Force in March 1999. Two aircraft (a one-seat and a two-seat) remain some time in the United States for weapons homologation.

All of the A-4ARs were delivered to the 5th Air Brigade (V Brigada Aerea) at Villa Reynolds, San Luis Province, where they replaced two squadrons of Falklands/Malvinas veteran A-4P/Qs. They were soon deployed in rotation around the country from Rio Gallegos in the south to Resistencia in the north where they were used intercept smugglers and drug trafficking airplanes.

In September 1998, just months after their arrival and again in April 2001, United States Air Force F-16 visited Villa Reynolds for the Southern Falcon joint exercise, known as Aguila in Argentina. In 2004, the A-4ARs went abroad for the joint exercise Cruzex, along with Brazilian F-5s and Mirages, Venezuelan F-16s and French Mirage 2000s.

In November 2005 they were deployed to Tandil airbase to enforce a no-fly zone for the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas and later met Chilean Mirage Elkans, Brazilian AMXs and Uruguayan A-37 at Mendoza for the joint exercise Ceibo.

In July 2006 they were deployed to Cordoba province for the Mercosur's 30th Presidents Summit, while in August and September they went north again to Brazil for the Cruzex III joint exercise with Brazil, Chile, France, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Operators

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Argentine Air Force

Accidents

As of January 2007, after nearly ten years of service, two A-4ARs have been lost:

6 July, 2005: near Justo Daract, San Luis Province, pilot Lt Horacio Martin Flores (29 years old), died.

24 August, 2005: near Rio Cuarto, Cordoba, pilot ejected safely.

References

Argentine Air Force

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article A-4AR Fightinghawk


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