Guatemala halts purchase of IA-63 Pampa jet aircraft

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.

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.

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.

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.

New announcements and updates on argentine IA-63 Pampas

President Macri should announce the air force’s request for three more aircraft, two new airframes and one conversion. This decision of continuing converting aircraft has been internally much debated considering the man hours needed for example to rewire the airframe compared to do so in a new airframe, directly affecting the possible output of this new assembly line.

Argentine Army Aviation starts to overhaul its AB-206B1 and pushes for a scout conversion

Just recently, the Argentine Army Aviation and Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA)’s mechanics have begun to overhaul the AB-206B-1 helicopters received from the Italian Carabinieri a few months ago. The helicopters were out of service for years and became exposed to the open weather once the argentine agreement started to stall and the hangar was vacated. None the less, an agreement was signed and this generated the needed traction for the transfer process to start. Of these 20 aircraft, one is still in Italy which was used to perform on the job training for this overhaul and the other 19, already in Campo de Mayo Airstrip, are being sent in batches to Cordoba for the works to start. 5 of these will be transferred to the Gendarmeria Nacional Aviation Service and the other 15 will remain in the Army.