|Argentine Air Force|
|Fuerza Aérea Argentina|
Badge of the Argentine Air Force
|Founded||4 January 1945|
|Size||13,837 personnel and 217 aircraft |
|Part of||Argentine Armed Forces|
|March||Spanish: Alas Argentinas |
|Anniversaries||10 August (anniversary) |
1 May (Baptism of fire during the Falklands War)
|Commander-in-Chief||President Alberto Fernández|
|Chief of Staff of the Air Force||Brigadier Xavier Isaac|
|Helicopter||Bell 412, Bell 212, Hughes 500D, SA315, Mil Mi-171|
|Trainer||T-6 Texan II, T-34, Tucano, Pampa, Grob 120TP|
The Argentine Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Argentina, or simply FAA) is the national aviation branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic. In 2010, it had 14,600 military personnel and 6,900 civilian personnel.
Several pioneers of Argentine aviation include the conscript Pablo Teodoro Fels and the retired Argentine Navy officer Jorge Newbery. The school began to turn out military pilots who participated in milestone events in Argentine aviation, such as the crossing of the Andes.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2015)
In the years following World War I, the Argentine Air Force received various aircraft from France and Italy. In 1922, the Escuela Militar de Aviación was temporarily disbanded, resulting in the formation of Grupo 1 de Aviación ('Aviation Group One') as an operational unit. Three years later, in 1925, the Escuela Militar de Aviación was reopened, and the Grupo 3 de Observación ('Observation Group Three') unit was created. Shortly after, Grupo 1 de Aviación became known as Grupo 1 de Observación.
In 1927, the Dirección General de Aeronáutica ('General Aeronautics Authority') was created to coordinate the country's military aviation. In that same year, the Fábrica Militar de Aviones (lit. 'Military Aircraft Factory', FMA), which would play a crucial role in the country's aviation industry, was founded in Córdoba. Despite that, throughout the 1930s, Argentina acquired various aircraft from the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.
By 1938-39, Argentina's air power comprised roughly 3,200 personnel (including about 200 officers) and maintained about 230 aircraft. About 150 of these were operated by the army and included Dewoitine D.21 and Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighters; Breguet 19 reconnaissance planes; Northrop A-17 and Martin B-10 bombers, North American NA-16 trainers, Focke-Wulf Fw 58 as multi-role planes, Junkers Ju 52, and Fairchild 82 transports. About 80 were operated by the navy and included the Supermarine Southampton, Supermarine Walrus, Fairey Seal, Fairey III, Vought O2U Corsair, Consolidated P2Y, Curtiss T-32 Condor II, Douglas Dolphin, and Grumman J2F Duck.
The first step towards the establishment of the Air Force as a separate branch of the Armed Forces was taken on February 11, 1944 with the establishment of the Aeronautical Command-in-Chief (Comando en Jefe de Aeronáutica) directly under the mandate of the Department of War. This later became the Argentine Air Force by decree on January 4, 1945, which also created the Secretary of Aeronautics (Secretaría de Aeronáutica).
At the end of World War II, the Air Force began a process of modernization. This 'golden age' (roughly 1945-1955) was ushered in by the availability of foreign currency in Argentina; the abundance of now unemployed airspace engineers from Germany, Italy, and France; and the British provision of latest-generation engines and other aircraft parts. In his first term, President Juan Perón brought teams of European engineers to the FMA, nowadays the Instituto Aerotécnico ('Aerotechnical Institute'), or I.Ae., to push forward the aircraft technological development, totaling roughly 750 workers. This included two teams of German designers (led by Kurt Tank), and the French engineer Émile Dewoitine.
In 1947, the Air Force acquired 100 Gloster Meteor jet fighters. These aircraft were paid for by the United States of America as a way to partially pay back its debt to Argentina, who provided them with raw materials during World War II. This acquisition made the Argentine the first air force in Latin America equipped with jet-propelled combat fighters. In addition, a number of Avro Lincoln and Avro Lancaster bombers were acquired.
The Air Force, with former Luftwaffe officers as consultants and with the European teams that Perón had brought, also began to develop its own aircraft e.g. the I.Ae. 27 Pulqui I and I.Ae. 33 Pulqui II. These manufactures made Argentina the first country in Latin America and the sixth in the world to develop jet fighter technology on its own. Other Argentina-developed, twin-engine aircraft include the I.Ae. 35 Huanquero, the I.Ae 22 DL advanced trainer, the I.Ae 24 Calquín bomber, the I.Ae. 23 trainer, the bi-motor combat fighter I.Ae. 30 Ñancú, the assault glider I.Ae. 25 Mañque, as well as rockets and planes for civilian use (like the FMA 20 El Boyero).
The Argentine Air Force opened fire for the first time on June 16, 1955 during the bombing of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in which government-loyal Gloster Meteors fought rebel planes attempting to assassinate the President in a coup d'état (this plan failed, and instead the rebels bombed the city and the House of Government). In the following September coup, the Air Force supported Perón's government by fighting the coup; initiating combat operations and transporting troops and arms. Only five aircraft defected to the other side. After the Revolución Libertadora succeeded and the coup took place, previously mentioned operations ceased and most Air Force workers left the country, including engineer Kurt Tank who left to work in India.
In 1952, the Air Force started flying to supply the Antarctic scientific bases using ski-equipped Douglas C-47s and establishing Marambio Base on 25 September 1969. Previously, President Juan Perón had created the Antarctic Task Forces (FATA, Fuerzas de Tareas Antárticas) for this purpose. On April 11, 1970, they began operating C-130 Hercules aircraft into the Antarctica. The first flight to land in Marambio Base was on board the one registered TC-61, commanded by Commodore Arturo Athos Gandolfi. The Fokker F-28 Fellowship presidential aircraft T-01 Patagonia is reported to be the first jet to have landed there, on July 28, 1973. Since the 1970s, DHC-6 Twin Otters have also been deployed. In October 1973, the Air Force launched the Operation Transantar, achieving the first trans-Antarctic three-continent flight in history when a Hercules C-130 flew between Río Gallegos; Marambio Base; Christchurch, New Zealand and Canberra, Australia.
In the 1960s, new aircraft were incorporated, including the F-86F Sabre jet fighter and the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk mainly used for ground-attack. U.S. Air Force Major Manuel J. Fernandez, a Spanish-speaking Sabre ace who shot down 14 enemy aircraft in the Korean War on board that aircraft, was dispatched to the Mendoza airbase from 1960-1962 to personally train Argentine pilots flying the model. During the 1970s, the Air Force re-equipped itself with modern aircraft, including Mirage III interceptors, IAI Dagger multi-role fighters (Ex-Israeli, comparable to the Mirage V), and C-130 Hercules cargo planes. A counter-insurgency airplane, the Pucará, was also manufactured and used in substantial numbers. The Air Force also had an important role in the 1976 coup which lead to a military dictatorship that lasted until 1983.
The Falklands War was the first war fought by the Argentine Air Force against an external enemy. It were unprepared for this war: in comparison to Britain's most modern weapons, some of the Argentine aircraft were obsolete. During the war, the Air Force division of the Military Junta was called the Fuerza Aérea Sur (FAS, 'Southern Air Force'), led by Ernesto Crespo.
Air action began on May 1, 1982. The UK's Royal Air Force initiated Operation Black Buck, in which an Acro Vulcan XM607 bomber attacked the military air base on the islands. The Task Force then proceeded to send Sea Harriers to attack positions at Stanley and Goose Green, where the first Argentine casualties occurred.
The Argentine Air Force reacted by sending IAI Dagger and A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft, and Mirage III interceptors. The Mirage III went into combat with the Harriers on Bourbon Island, with one Mirage lost to a Harrier. On May 21, the Battle of San Carlos ("Bomb Alley") began when the Air Force attacked a detachment of British ships making a landing in the San Carlos Water. The Dagger and Skyhawk aircraft sank three British ships (HMS Coventry, a Type 42 destroyer; two frigates, HMS Antelope and HMS Ardent) and damaged another eight ships.
During the march of June 8, the Air Force carried out an operation in Bluff Cove. The British needed to position Infantry Brigade 5 to complete their lock on Port Stanley. For this they used the landing ships RFA Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram. Seven A-4 Skyhawks were used in the attack. Six Daggers attacked the frigate, HMS Plymouth. The Skyhawks destroyed Sir Galahad and the landing craft Foxtrot 4. They also severely damaged Sir Tristram. Three A-4s were lost through interception by the Harriers. All the bombs dropped by the Daggers failed to explode.
On June 13, the A-4 Skyhawks of the Argentinian Air Force renewed their attacks. They were in two formations of four planes each. They launched an attack against enemy troops and helicopters. On June 14, 1982, the Argentine command surrendered. The United Kingdom regained control of the Falklands, Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands. The Argentine Air Force suffered 55 dead and 47 wounded, with 505 combat departures and 62 aircraft losses, as listed below:
After the war, the UK imposed an arms embargo on Argentina, which was discontinued in the 1990s. After attempts to acquire surplus IAI Kfirs or F-16s failed for economic and political reasons, the United States military sold Argentina 36 A-4AR Fightinghawks, a refurbished and upgraded version of the A-4 Skyhawks used in the war. Other equipment was bought: 23 US Army surplus OV-1 Mohawks, 22 Ex-Israeli IAI Dagger, 2 C-130B, and 1 Lockheed L-100-30.
After the war, to avoid becoming dependent to other countries for their aeronautic technology, Argentina started planning the development of new aircraft including the FMA IA-63 Pampa, the combat fighter FMA SAIA 90, and the transformation of the Condor missile into a medium-range ballistic missile. Of these, only the Pampa was successfully developed. The SAIA 90 was canceled by President Raúl Alfonsin to focus on the Condor, while the Condor was canceled in the 1980s by President Carlos Menem.
In 1994, Menem discontinued mandatory military service (commonly known as La Colimba) in Argentina and established voluntary military service for 10 years. He also allowed the presence of women into military service.
The Air Force has been involved in United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. They sent a Boeing 707 to the 1991 Gulf War. Since 1994 the UN Air contingent (UNFLIGHT) in Cyprus under UNFICYP mandate is provided by the Air Force, having achieved 10,000 flight hours by 2003 without any accidents. It has also deployed, since 2005, Bell 212 helicopters to Haiti under MINUSTAH mandate, and has been involved with UN peacekeeping in Cyprus as the Argentine Task Force (Fuerza de Tarea Argentina).
In early 2005, seventeen brigadiers, including the Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Carlos Rohde, were sacked by President Néstor Kirchner following a scandal involving drug trafficking through Ezeiza International Airport. Kirchner cited failures in the security systems of the Argentine airports, which were overseen by the National Aeronautic Police, then a branch of the Air Force (predecessor of the today independent Airport Security Police), and cover-ups of the scandal. It later became known that many government agencies, among them the Ministry of the Interior, the Customs Administration and the Secretariat of State Intelligence knew about the drug trafficking.
In 2007, the Air Force began participation in Operation Fortín to monitor the Argentine airspace for drug trafficking. They also began using aerial measures to monitor wildfires as part of the National Plan for Fire Management.
Since the 1990s the Air Force has established good relations with its neighbors, the Brazilian and Chilean Air Forces. They annually meet, on a rotation basis, in the joint exercises Cruzex in Brazil, Ceibo in Argentina and Salitre in Chile.
In 2007 an FAA FMA IA 58 Pucará was converted to use a modified engine operating on soy-derived bio-jet fuel. The project, financed and directed by the Argentine Government (Secretaría de Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación Productiva de la Nación), made Argentina the second nation in the world to propel an aircraft with bio-jet fuel. The purpose of the project is to make the FAA less reliant on fossil fuels.
As of 2010Boeing 707 transport squadron and maintenance problems for half of the C-130 Hercules fleet. This was particularly evident when, in a matter of days in March, the same C-130 aircraft could be seen, in addition to their routine missions, traveling 3 times to Haiti, 9 times to Chile (in both cases delivering humanitarian aid) and also doing a resupply airdrop to the Argentine southernmost Antarctic base Belgrano II.budgetary constraints continued, leading to the disbanding of the
In August 2010 a contract was signed for two Mi-17E helicopters, plus an option on a further three, to support Antarctic bases although no official destination for them have been released yet and is possible that they will be assigned to the Argentine Army Aviation.
The FAA is seeking to replace its ageing force with a more capable and more serviceable modern aircraft. The acquisition of Spanish Mirage F1Ms, IAI Kfir Block 60sand Saab Gripen E/Fs was considered, but as of February 2015, all of those deals appear to have stalled; The Mirage F1 deal was scrapped by the Spanish government in March 2014 after pressure of the UK to not assist in FAA modernization over tensions between the countries over the Falkland Islands. The UK has also managed to veto the sale of Gripen E/Fs, as 30% of the Gripen's parts are manufactured there. The deal with Israel has reportedly stalled for technical and political reasons. China has reportedly offered JF-17/FC-1 or Chengdu J-10 to Argentina. The two countries have formed a working group to look into the transfer of 14 aircraft. Russia had also offered to lease 12 Su-24 strike aircraft to the FAA, but Jane's reported that the Su-24 would not be very useful to the FAA and that "it would appear that any proposed transfer of such aircraft is likely the result of Russia playing political games with the UK over the continuing crisis in Ukraine.". All Mirages were officially decommissioned on 30 November 2015. The A-4s were grounded as of January 2016 for lack of spares; in any case only 4-5 were airworthy with the rest in storage at Villa Reynolds. When Barack Obama visited in March 2016, Air Force One was accompanied by US Air Force F-16s because Argentina could only offer Pucarás and Pampas for air defense.
As of July 2019, the Argentine Air Force and government selected the KAI FA-50 as its interim fighter. It was to be the first step in modernizing the fighter force and replacing the Mirage 3, Dagger, and Mirage 5 fighters that have been retired. It was also anticipated to help in the retirement of the A-4AR Fightinghawk fleet, as they are now aging and becoming difficult to maintain. In 2020, it was reported that as few as six of the Fightinghawk aircraft remained operational. While no specific numbers of aircraft to purchase were given, the media reported that up to 10 FA-50s were in the deal. Despite elections coming in October 2019, the deal had been expected to go through. An Argentine delegation first visited the Republic of Korea Air Force in September 2016. At that time an FAA pilot was able to test fly the TA-50 Golden Eagle operational trainer variant of the FA-50.
However, the deal appeared to have been canceled in early 2020 leaving the Air Force without a fighter replacement. Some sources suggested that the cancellation was due to the financial pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, while others reported that British intervention played a part by preventing the export of an aircraft incorporating various British components. In October 2020, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) confirmed that since major components of the aircraft were supplied by the U.K., the aircraft could not be exported to Argentina. Britain similarly blocked the potential sale of Brazilian license-built Saab Gripen aircraft to Argentina given avionics that were of British origin. Argentina was now said to be exploring the potential acquisition of aircraft from Russia or China, or alternatively JF-17 aircraft from Pakistan.
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The FAA is headed by the Chief of the General Staff (Jefe del Estado Mayor General), directly appointed by the President. The Chief of Staff usually holds the rank of Brigadier General, the highest rank of the Air Force. The Chief of Staff is seconded by a Deputy Chief of the General Staff and three senior officers in charge of the FAA's three Commands: the Air Operations Command, the Personnel Command and the Materiel Command.
The Air Operations Command (Comando de Operaciones Aéreas) is the branch of the Air Force responsible for aerospace defense, air operations, planning, training, technical and logistical support of the air units. Subordinate to the Air Operations Command are the Air Brigades (Brigadas Aéreas), the Air Force's major operative units, as well as the airspace surveillance and control group (Grupo VYCEA, Argentine Air Force). A total of eight air brigades are currently[when?] operational. Brigades are headquartered at Military Air Bases (Base Aérea Militar (BAMs).
Each Air Brigade is made up of three Groups, each bearing the same number as their mother Brigade. These groups include:
The Personnel Command (Comando de Personal) is responsible for the training, education, assignment, and welfare of Air Force personnel. Under the control of the Personnel Command are the Military Aviation School (which educates the future officers of the Air Force), the Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) School, and other educational and training units.
The Materiel Command (Comando de Material) deals with planning and executing the Air Force's logistics regarding flying and ground materiel. Materiel Command includes "Quilmes" and "Río Cuarto" Material Areas (repairing and maintenance units) and "El Palomar" Logistical Area.
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Officers wear their rank insignia in their sleeves, in the pattern depicted below. There are also shoulderboards with the same insignia (albeit in gray) for the ranks between Ensign and Commodore. General officers wear different shoulder boards.
|Insignia||Equivalent NATO Rank Code||Rank in Spanish||Rank in English||Commonwealth equivalent||US Air Force equivalent|
|OF-9||Brigadier General||Brigadier General||Air Chief Marshal||General|
|OF-8||Brigadier Mayor||Brigadier-Major||Air Marshal||Lieutenant General|
|OF-7||Brigadier||Brigadier||Air Vice-Marshal||Major General|
|OF-6 (honorary rank)||Comodoro Mayor||Commodore Major
(honorary rank given to Commodores)
|Air Commodore||Brigadier General|
|OF-4||Vicecomodoro||Vice-Commodore||Wing Commander||Lieutenant Colonel|
|OF-1||Primer Teniente||First Lieutenant||Flying Officer||First Lieutenant|
|OF-1||Teniente||Lieutenant||Pilot Officer||Second Lieutenant|
|OF-D||Alférez||Ensign||Acting Pilot Officer|
|Insignia||Rank in Spanish||Rank in English||US Air Force equivalent||RAF equivalent|
|Suboficial Mayor||Senior Sub-Officer||Chief Master Sergeant,
Command Chief Master Sergeant
|Suboficial Principal||Chief Sub-Officer||Senior Master Sergeant||Chief Technician|
|Suboficial Ayudante||Adjutant Sub-Officer||Master Sergeant||Flight Sergeant|
|Suboficial Auxiliar||Auxiliary Sub-Officer||Technical Sergeant||Sergeant|
|Cabo Principal||Principal Corporal||Staff Sergeant||Corporal|
|Cabo Primero||Corporal First Class||Senior Airman||Junior Technician|
Senior Aircraftman Technician/Senior Aircraftwoman Technician
|Cabo||Corporal||Airman First Class||Senior Aircraftman/Senior Aircraftwoman|
|Voluntario Primero||Volunteer First Class||Airman||Leading Aircraftman/Leading Aircraftwoman|
|Voluntario Segundo||Volunteer Second Class||Airman Basic||Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman|
|A-4AR Fightinghawk||United States||Fighter / Attack||A-4AR||23||6 aircraft reported operational in 2020.|
|FMA IA 63 Pampa||Argentina||Attack||Pampa III||6|
|Learjet 35||United States||Electronic warfare||EC-21A||1|
|Lockheed Martin KC-130||United States||Refueling||KC-130H||2||Upgrade by FAdeA|
|Embraer C-390||Brazil||transport||6 on order|
|Boeing 737||United States||VIP transport||1|
|Lockheed C-130 Hercules||United States||Transport||C-130H||3||Upgrade by FAdeA|
|Lockheed L-100 Hercules||United States||Transport||L-100||1|
|Piper PA-31 Navajo||United States||Utility||2|
|Aero Commander 500||United States||VIP transport||3|
|Bell 412||United States||Utility||412EP||6|
|Bell 212||United States||Utility||12|
|Mil Mi-17||Russia||Utility||Mi-171||2||3 on order|
|Sikorsky S-70||United States||VIP transport||1|
|Sikorsky S-76||United States||VIP transport||2|
|Kamov Ka-226||Russia||light utility||3 on order|
|Eurocopter AS350||France||Utility||H125M||12 on order|
|SA 315B Lama||France||Utility||3|
|MD 500 Defender||United States||Light multi-role||MD 500D||9|
|FMA IA 63 Pampa||Argentina||Advanced trainer||Pampa II||18||18 on order|
|Grob G 120TP||Germany||Basic trainer||7|
|EMB-312 Tucano||Brazil||Basic trainer / Attack||14||single-turboprop basic trainer|
|Lockheed Martin A-4||United States||Conversion trainer||OA-4AR||3|
|Beechcraft T-6 Texan II||United States||Basic trainer||T-6C+||12|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2016)