French ex-president Hollande testified in Brazil’s FX-2 fighter jet probe

Former French President Francois Hollande was questioned by police in France earlier this month as a witness in a Brazilian corruption investigation into a deal to buy combat jets, a source close to the politician said. Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy refused to be questioned as part of the same probe, according to France’s Canard Enchaine newspaper, which first reported on Tuesday that the ex-presidents had been asked to testify in the affair. “The meeting did indeed take place,” the source close to Hollande said of the Socialist’s exchange with police on July 4. Sarkozy’s aides did not respond to a request for comment. The case centers on Brazil’s purchase of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden’s Saab in 2013, when Dilma Rousseff was in power.

Guatemala becomes the first export customer of the IA-63 Pampa

Within the next 48 hours, the Defense ministers of Argentina and Guatemala will be signing the purchase of two IA-63 Pampa Serie III jet trainers. This two seat, single engine, advanced jet trainer provides a NVG compliant MIL SPEC full glass cockpit with a nav/attack suite. Is the third generation of the IA-63 Pampa trainer, designed at the late 1970 by a joint venture between FMA and Dornier. This is to become the first export for the IA-63 Pampa and the first of FAdeA (then FMA or Fabrica Militar de Aviones) in over 25 years. Argentine Ministry of Defense has reported also ongoing talks with Bolivia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Paraguay.

New ties and business opportunities for the Mercosur and South Korea

In this month of July, representatives of the Mercosur member countries and its south Korean counterparties will meet in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, for the third time to sign an agreement and pave the way towards a Free Trade Treaty. How can this affect the Argentine and South Korean defense ties? Argentina had very defense related trade with South Korea, some even remember the purchase of tank ammunition for the Army, but there are many development opportunities other than the case of the Lead in Fighter Trainers KAI FA-50 as has been discussed over the past week, in some cases actual possibilities, in other, not so much. South Korea has a very advanced and capable defense industry, in many cases developed indigenously as other with high level cooperation with France, Israel, Russia and the U.S.  With products that range from infantry gear, armored vehicles, tanks, aircraft, missiles, ships, submarines and torpedoes as many other cases. For example, Argentina and South Korea share a number of components and weapons on board of their vessels that could also benefit from cooperation between navies as well for some support and modernization possibilities.

EU and Mercosur agreements change the picture upon arms trade

The agreement signed today by representatives of the European Union and the Mercosur is set to change many aspects of the international arms trade between Europe and South America. While China and the U.S. are seen by some to have taken the sharp end of the stick, in some situations, it wouldn’t be precisely like that. Many high level, both historic and circumstantial, relations could still provide a valid context for business, being by ideology, tradition or to thank the support given on a particular moment. For example, in the current bid to replace the UH-1H helicopters of the Argentine Army. Three strong proposals, one in particular more than the other, are directly influenced by it.

KAI’s FA-50 closes the deal in Argentina or not?

The argentine newspaper Ambito, expressed what was first published by LATAMilitary, regarding a possible agreement for the purchase of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Lead In Fighter Trainers (LIFT) for the Argentine Air Force within the context of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The Air Force and KAI are very committed toward signing the agreement but within the Ministry of Defense, some voices have expressed their caution and asked to hear an offer as well by the second-best candidate: Leonardo’s M-346 FA Fighter Attack. It is very wise to have and compare options, but is that the case or is it another agenda behind waiting for them? The Air Force selected the FA-50 based on a very thorough analysis and the possibility of take flight in the aircraft, which was not possible for the M-346FA since still is in prototype phase and yet lacks many of the actual features offered to their potential customer. Other than actual technical limitations, concerns were expressed on the dependence this would have on the engine supplier, Honeywell, which is also the supplier for the TFE-731 engines in the Pampa III.

Argentina still waits for its new Lightweight Multirole Fighter

The Argentine Air Force lost its last supersonic fighters in late 2015 when the Dassault Mirages were taken out of service. These, by then 40+ year old aircraft, some of them veteran of two wars, were pretty much obsolete and had lost much of its logistical support. Air Superiority after that was left to the subsonic A-4M Skyhawk II, extensively upgraded in early 1990s with new avionics, full glass cockpit and a much capable nav/attack suite. Still, the now dubbed A-4AR “Fightinghawks”, lack any actual air superiority capacity but hold a very respected performance within WVR combat envelopes. As many of you can recall, these aircraft were used as part of the, Hollywood immortalized, “Top Gun” U.S. Navy Fighter School.

Argentina struggles with its P-3 fleet and hopes for surplus P-3Cs

Argentine Naval Aviation Command is struggling to keep their P-3B fleet operational, one of two serviceable aircraft has been sent for Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) to the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) and the other continues to have little flying hours based on limitations of its airframe. The 50 year old P-3B TACNAVMOD “SuperBee”, 6-P-56, had been inspected by a Lockheed Martin commission which advised for spar replacements. A bid was placed and OGMA was selected to perform these works in FAdeA in late 2015. As sources state, OGMA is now in conflict with Lockheed Martin and in jeopardy to lose its certification if it has not already. This comes in conjunction with a budget reduction which left the aircraft unfinished at approximately 72% of completion, as Full Aviacion recently reported.

Guatemala wants to buy two FAdeA’s IA-63 Pampa

According to sources both in the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) and the argentine government, the Guatemala Air Force is finishing up the details to buy two new IA-63 Pampa Serie III from Argentina. Several talks and high-level visits took place in the last two years for the agreement to come, according to the website Full Aviacion, the Guatemalan government set up an advance payment of 8 million USD and will cancel what’s due upon delivery of the aircraft, which is set for late 2019. No details are yet available on spares, support and training. These IA-63 will be replacing A-37 Dragonfly light attack / trainers, received from the U.S. in the 1970s. This comes as the first export client of the IA-63 Pampa and the first export aircraft of FAdeA in almost 30 years.

Turkey, too good of an opportunity for Argentina’s UAS capabilities development?

Unmistakably, Argentina has been one of the frontrunners in UAS development from the last 30 years on. Initiatives from both private and Armed Forces R&D institutions had a certain degree of success but due to lack of actual government commitment beyond the concept and prototype phases, have failed to provide a lasting and concrete deployment of such systems in Security and Armed Forces. In the region, military/security UAS as of commercial UAS are in use. Both Israel and the U.S. hold a massive share of the sales for the mission-specific aircraft, even in some cases with licensed production of them. On the other hand, Chinese commercial systems are in large numbers both in government, law enforcement as for privates.

IA-58 Pucara, do or die.

A recent photo has shown the IA-58H, AX-561, re engine prototype leaving the paint shop with a new air superiority camouflage. This aircraft over a year ago suspended its flight tests to complete the analysis on the works done by FAdeA with engineering assistance of Israel Aircraft Industries to replace the obsolete Turbomeca Astazou XVI-G engines for new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-A62. With assistance from Israel Aircraft Industries, this meant to redesign the wing and to request Hartzell's development of a beta control, necessary to reverse the propeller. Upon this much delayed work, some sources in the Ministry of Defense, have disclosed rumors of an intended request of from 3 to less than a dozen aircraft to be serviced and reengined, but nothing yet of more complex works on the remaining fleet. This engine replacement would only address one (still very important) aspect of a valid combat aircraft well within the 21st century.