Next October 4th, the Argentine AF will phase out its IA-58’s in a ceremony at the Reconquista AB. This will close a 44-year service span of the argentine designed and built aircraft. The Pucara have been exported to Colombia, Uruguay and Sri Lanka.
As a situation of public knowledge, the recent Argentine Peso 30% depreciation after the general primary elections has taken a toll in the Argentine AF’s budget. Due to the impact of the new currency rate to the U.S. dollar, the Defense Ministry, according to the Ambito newspaper has cut on the requests for the Argentine AF to the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) from 4 to 2 IA-63 Pampa Serie III for this year. Also, a decision was made on provisions made on behalf of the production for the 5th aircraft to be delivered. This has come as blow right after the suspension of the purchase agreement with Guatemala for 2 with an option of 5 (which as you have seen have been temporarily absorbed by the Argentine AF) and the loss of those millions of dollars which are critical to FAdeA’s financial stress. Still, everything is not lost, since the Aug 11th Guatemalan general election proved successful to the official candidates and there are chances that following the inauguration, talks could be in place to establish a renewed and streamlined acquisition process.
As published by AINOnline, within the LABACE Convention which is taking place in the Congonhas Airport in Brazil, Desaer, a recent company with aeronautical engineers, formerly employed by Embraer and former military presented the ATL-100 light commuter concept. “Created by former Embraer employees in 2017, Desaer resides at Incubaero, an incubator for start-ups and new aerospace projects at the Fundação Casimiro Montenegro Filho, one of the technology development institutes within the DCTA facility at São José dos Campos. Parented by the Brazilian air force, the DCTA (Departamento de Ciência e Tecnologia Aeroespacial, department of aerospace science and technology) is Brazil’s national military research center for aerospace projects and activities.”
As for the ALT-100, a brief was presented that quotes: “To be powered by two turboprops in the 1,000-shp class, the ATL-100 is an unpressurized transport of high-wing, T-tailed configuration with low cost of acquisition and operation as key design drivers. It has a square-section cabin that can be arranged to accommodate 19-passenger seating in a single row on the left and double row on the right, 12 paratroops, and two jumpmasters on sidewall tip-up seats, stretchers for the aeromedical evacuation/air ambulance role, or three LD3 containers. The latter cannot be accommodated within current utility types such as the Bandeirante, Viking Twin Otter, Dornier Do 228, or LET 410.
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.
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.
The Argentine Air Force C-130H fleet is completing its major upgrade with L-3’s Flight II+ avionics suite. While this performance improvement will bring an experienced AAF to the 21st century standard, a replacement although not that urgently is still pending, the aircraft are not getting any younger.
While logic dictates that the reliability and success of the C-130 would tend to look for the most current version of the aircraft, bilateral relations with Brazil and current industrial agreements between the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) and EMBRAER for components production of the KC-390 would represent a commitment for regional development. Another option most certainly would be the A-400M Atlas, but higher costs of acquisition, operation and restrictions considering the use of UK’s armed forces and the concurring consequences of pending sovereignty talks between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas islands and other islands of the South Atlantic would make the AAF susceptible to any possible mishaps.
So, this would take two frontrunners to the task, but, which one?
Much has been published recently regarding the probable argentine purchase of korean Lead In Fighter Trainers, KAI FA-50. South Korean state media, Maeli, quoting statements by both Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and South Korean government sources that push for this deal to come through. Patience is running out. Supposedly, requests of a counteroffer by the Leonardo consortium and their M-346 FA aircraft have not come through or have been considered inadequate. 8 FA-50 aircraft with 2 of them free of charge, including a Flight Simulator, spares, technical support and training for under 400 million dollars.
Recent statements have put a halt on Guatemalan Air Force purchase of FAdeA’s IA-63 Pampa III jet trainers. The agreement, signed by both argentine and guatemalan presidents on July 3rd, 2019, has been contested by the guatemalan national controllership. The fact is that both governments made use of an update of an existing agreement to provide the legal framework in order to perform the operation. This would directly counter legislation on bids and purchases for the guatemalan state. With particular interest in next month’s general election ballotage, this did not go unattended.
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.
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.