An opportunity for Argentina? The Dominican Republic looks for aircraft and radars.

According to a recent publication, The Dominican Republic is looking for more aircraft and air surveillance radars. Currently the AF holds a roster of 8 EMB-314 Super Tucano which are the spearhead of the DRAF, after the A-37 Dragonfly were taken out of service, they have no jet aircraft left. The main interest and hot spot are the operations of irregular air traffic, related to drug trafficking and smuggling with aircraft with origin in the vicinities of Colombia and/or Venezuela. Air defense roles are based upon information provided by radars integrated in a circuit, installed in the Las Americas and Punta Cana airports. Still, such radars are more related to an air traffic control function other than air surveillance and defense roles.

The FA-50AR begins to take shape between Argentina and South Korea

Weeks after the most recent statements, Argentine and South Korean government officials continue negotiations for the purchase of 10 FA-50 Golden Eagle Lead in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) aircraft, any consideration that Leonardo’s M-346FA might had, now is gone. Amid the lack of more detailed official information from any of both parties, some milestones have been disclosed and to confirm that an actual framework is being agreed upon after the highest level of argentine government has given the "go". Representatives of Argentina and South Korea are agreeing to set up a joint venture to build, develop and support the FA-50AR, presumably between the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones S.A. (FAdeA) and Korea Aerospace Industries. The South Korean Government holds the majority of the shares in KAI. The remaining stock is completed by Hanwha Techwin and the U.S. based, Blackrock Fund, which happened to have also recently opened a branch in Buenos Aires.

The Argentine AF bought 8 Tecnam P2002 JF light aircraft

In recent days, the Argentine Air Force acquired 8 Tecnam P2002 JF light aircraft from Aerotec Argentina, a distributor of Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam. The AF has been leasing the P2002's since 2016 for basic training in the Military Aviation School in Cordoba. Recent news calculated the amount of the operation of approximately 1.5 million U.S. dollars, still no official statements have been made yet. According to Tecnam: “The Argentine Air Force required that the Tecnam P2002JF CS/VLA would have a package of equipment and avionics superior to the standard civil version in order to extend the original capacities of the aircraft. Known as “Glass Cockpit + Night VFR“, This includes the Garmin G500 PFD digital instrument panel, an integrated GTN 650 COM / NAV / GPS navigation and communications system with antennas and instrumentation, speedometer and back altimeter, heated pitot, instrument lights and maps, dimmer and auxiliary alternator.

The argentine AF C-130s needs more and new engines

Today and increasingly, the Argentine
Air Force C-130 and KC-130H’s are having operational setbacks. Engine failures
are not uncommon, and it gets ever more difficult to procure the necessary
funding to properly stock the AF. The argentine C-130’s are without
question, the most important aircraft in the nation, critical for a number of
duties including paradrop, search and rescue, transport and air to air refueling
(only KC-130). An important overhaul and upgrade program were implemented from
2014 and on by the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) in partnership with L-3
to integrate the Flight II+ suite in the argentine aircraft, also the two KC-130s
have been equipped with a Wescam MX-10 gyrostabilized platform with LLTV and IR/EO
sensors. Such an FMS sponsored upgrade was only recently paid and at a great cost, armed forces land and properties were auctioned in order to procure necessary payment also of brand-new Bell 412 EP helicopters, T-6C Texan II and their conversion to the C+ standard.

U.S. and Colombia are expanding their Regional Helicopter Training Center

The Colombian Air Force has recently received its 60th Th-67 “Creek” helicopter from the U.S. Army for its Regional Helicopter Training Center (RHTC). Such an idea came after the signature of the so called “Plan Colombia” in late 1990s between both nations. This program provides funding for military and police forces in support of counter drug and counter terrorism, but not exclusively for Colombia. Early on, the three phase Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training was made in Ft Rucker, Dale County, Alabama. Such a course was given by Spanish speaking contractors but after the 1999 agreements, an effort was made to transfer this course to the Colombian Air Force’s 4th Combat Command (CACOM 4) to which Th-67 helicopters were provided and the’ then called Joint Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training and now Regional Helicopter Training Center began as a proven and cost effective course.

The FA-50 is not enough for the Argentine AF

Once again, Argentine mass media takes notice on the proposed purchase of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Golden Eagle for the Argentine Air Force. We did cover this fact recently and in short, Clarin published already known information but with stating a supposed green light by the President Mauricio Macri to go on and submit this agreement. Such negotiations allegedly are for first squadron of 8 to 10 aircraft and their logistical support and training for the next two years. Financial restraints would prevent the AF to also include advanced weaponry to which will turn to its own arsenal of AIM-9L/M and free fall bombs for the time being. 

Many criticisms come from the fact that no FA-50 in service is capable of using Air to Air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weaponry and still with no air to air refueling capacity or large capacity conformal fuel tanks (CFT), which would leave the aircraft with internal fuel only and on a very limited combat radius. This is only offered by KAI as a possible development on request. 

The FA-50 is no match in the class of neighboring F-16’s and Gripens but will bring sustainable scalability and capabilities in which the aging and progressively obsolete A-4Ar Fightinghawks don’t make the cut anymore.

U.S. reinforces overflights of Venezuelan EEZ

As we reported last Monday, after
July 19th’s encounter of the U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II with a pair of
AMBV’s Su-30MK2, USN flights resumed over the Venezuelan Economic Exclusion
Zone (EEZ). Although this is nothing new, its going on for both Obama’s and Trump’s administration. For sure, Venezuela and its Caribbean Sea surroundings are one of the main interests of the VQ-1 Squadron, based at NAS Whidbey Island. VQ-1 is among the last squadrons of the P-3 Orion in USN service, in this case the ELINT specific EP-3 Aries II variant. Starting 2023, the EP-3 is to be replaced by the MQ-4C Triton UAS with a MULTI-INT suite in the U.S. Navy.

The argentine IA-63 Pampa won’t be sold to Bolivia, here’s why.

Yesterday, the newspaper Clarin published an article stating that any possible sales prospect of the IA-63 Pampa advanced jet trainers is under pressure by Israel and the U.S. considering Bolivia’s direct links with Iran.The fact is that Bolivia and Iran have just signed an agreement to provide “nanotechnology” for a military academy and Drones for counter-drug and smuggling operations. Although the actual drone which is to be purchased has not yet been disclosed, this is causing serious concerns on Bolivia’s neighbors and sets as the first Iranian drone export in Latin America. Israel and the U.S. are very annoyed by the fact considering their high-level lobbying and Mike Pompeo’s presence in the region to bolster anti-terrorist cooperation and the recognition of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization by Latin-American nations. Argentina and Bolivia have a very important gas trade and to this fact, Gustavo Lopetegui, the argentine Secretary for Energy, proposed that on any compensation required from the argentine state to the bolivian state, it could be paid by the export of IA-63 Pampa advanced jet trainers. This has been seen at first as an opportunity to provide new customers for the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA), but such a salesmanship collided with the fact that it was not thorough in considering that the IA-63 Pampa has components made in Israel, U.K and U.S. which are subject to export approvals.

U.S. deploys more assets near Venezuela

Following on the incident that took place on July 19th between an EP-3 Aries II ELINT/SIGINT platform and venezuelan Su-30MK2s , the United States Air Force in agreement with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is to deploy an E-3 "Sentry" AWACS platform, to support counter-drug operations in Curacao. Its no surprise that what happened this Friday triggered a number of actions, one of which is this deployment. Actually any counternarcotics operation won't name directly Venezuelan leaders and their alleged links with drug cartels, but the E-3 also is to provide an early warning capability over the Caribbean Sea and venezuelan airspace with its AN/APY-2 long range early warning radar for both surface ships and aircraft. The U.S. is increasing the pressure on the venezuelan government, as much as Russia if beefing up its support. Let's hope this doesn't escalate any further.

There’s no better timing for the argentine Airbus C-295s than now

The Argentine Air Force is on the verge of decommissioning the last of its Fokker F-28 transports as recently happened with the F-27. Thus, the argentine military has no medium transport aircraft other than the C-130 operated by the AF, since the navy operated F-28s and the Army’s G-222A have been long scrapped. A tender was proposed in 2015/2016 in which both Leonardo’s C-27J and Airbus C-295 were competing and the cost-effective Spanish built transport took the lead. Unfortunately, the financial situation combined with lack of political interest delayed indefinitely this process of which at the time was disclosed the possibility also to include MPA/SAR variants and as AEW platform. Still, only Chile operates the Persuader MPA version and there’s no customers for AEW yet.