After the retirement of the Argentine Air Force’s 30 Beechcraft B45s and T-34A Mentors in 2011, there is still in 2012 no decision on a replacement. Initial plans to build the SF260 or the Pazmany PL-2 under license were dropped in favour of developing the indigenous IA-73 basic trainer. With limited progress on the project, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between Grob and Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) to sell the Pampa jet trainer together with the Grob G120TP. A lease of 10 G120TPs will act as a stopgap until the IA-73 trainer is ready.
Meanwhile, basic requirements are being met by seven Chincul-built Piper PA-28-236 Dakotas from the Institute Nacional de Aviacion Civil, an Air Force-owned civil aviation school. The Argentine Navy offered the Air Force the use of its 10 T-34C Turbo Mentors, but this proposal was refused.
During 2009 and 2011 a programme was initiated to reinforce the Mentors’main spars, but a minor accident led to the decision to retire them after 54 years of service, leaving some aircraft in the factory with modification work incomplete.
Pampas to replace Mirages
VI Brigada Aerea of the Argentine Air Force is to replace its fleet of Mirages and Fingers with the IA-63 Pampa II. Argentine Defence Minister Arturo Puricelli has reiterated plans for the air arm to receive the 40 new-build Pampa IIs, and said that ‘when the Mirage is retired, our idea is to send a squadron of Pampa IIs to the VI Brigada Aerea to replace them and keep preparing pilots’. Puricelli added, ‘We want to build 40 Pampas until 2015 and this will guarantee that our pilots will be prepared to fly modern fighters with minimum training.’
Currently the IV Brigada Aerea and the Flight Test Centre have a total of 19 Pampas in operation. Santiago Rivas