Argentine Air Force

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Argentine Air Force
Fuerza Aérea Argentina
Argentine airforce wings emblem.svg
The Argentine Air Force Emblem.
Active 1945–Present
Country Argentina
Size 14,600 personnel
163 aircraft[1]
March Alas Argentinas (Argentine Wings)
Anniversaries August 10 (anniversary)
May 1 (Baptism of fire during the Falklands War)
Battle honours

Operativo Independencia (1975)

Malvinas (1982)
Commanders
Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Mario Miguel Callejo
Insignia
Roundel Roundel of Argentina.svg
Fin Flash Flag of Argentina.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Pucará, A-4AR
Fighter A-4AR
Interceptor Mirage IIIEA
Trainer T-34, Tucano, Pampa, Grob 120TP
Transport C-130, Fokker F28, Fokker F27, DHC-6

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.[2]

History

FAA F-86 Sabre

The Air Force's history begins with the establishment of the Army Aviation Service's Escuela de Aviación Militar (Military Aviation School) on 10 August 1912. Several military officers were amongst the pioneers of Argentine aviation, including Jorge Newbery, a retired Argentine Navy officer. The school began to turn out military pilots who participated in milestone events in Argentine aviation, such as the crossing of the Andes mountains.

Interwar period

In 1927 the Dirección General de Aeronáutica (General Directorate of Aeronautics) was created to coordinate the country's military aviation. In that same year the Fábrica Militar de Aviones (Military Aircraft Factory, FMA), which would become the heart of the country's aviation industry, was founded in Córdoba.

FMA-built Curtiss-Hawk 75O

By 1938–39 the Argentine air force had about 3,200 staff (including about 200 officers), and maintained about 230 aircraft. About 150 of these were operated by the army and included Dewoitine D.27 and Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighters; Breguet 19, Fairey III and Stearman 76 D1 reconnaissance planes; Northrop A-17, North American NA-16, Martin B-10 heavy combat craft, Focke-Wulf Fw 58 as multi-role planes, and Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra, Junkers Ju 52, Douglas Dolphin, Curtiss T-32 Condor II and Fairchild 82 transporters. About 80 were operated by the navy and included the Supermarine Southampton, Supermarine Walrus, Fairey Seal, and Vought O2U Corsair variants, Consolidated P2Y, and Grumman J2F Duck.[3]

World War II and immediate post-war

By the 1940s there were several air units in the Army and the Navy; the first step towards an independent force came on 11 February 1944 with the establishment of the Aeronautical Command, which would go on to become the Argentine Air Force on 4 January 1945, an independent force on par with the Army and the Navy.

FAA Gloster Meteor F.4 jet fighter

Immediately after the end of World War II, in which the Argentine Air Force took no part,[citation needed] it began a process of modernization, incorporating aircraft such as the Gloster Meteor jet fighter, thus becoming the first air force in Latin America equipped with jet-propelled aircraft. In addition, a number of Avro Lincoln and Avro Lancaster bombers were acquired, creating a powerful strategic force in the region. The Air Force, with former Luftwaffe technicians, also began to develop its own aircraft, such as the Pulqui I and Pulqui II, making Argentina the first country in Latin America and the sixth in the world to develop jet fighter technology on its own.

Antarctic support

In 1952 the Air Force began flight to supply the Antarctic scientific bases using ski-equipped C-47s[4] and establishing Marambio Base on 25 September 1969. On 11 April 1970[5] they began landing C-130 Hercules aircraft, when the TC-61 commanded by Commodore Arturo Athos Gandolfi was the first airplane to land in Marambio,[6] and the Fokker F-28 Fellowship presidential aircraft T-01 Patagonia is reported to be the first jet to have landed at Marambio, on 28 July 1973.[7][8] and since the 1970s Twin Otters are also deployed.[9] On October 1973 the FAA launched Operation Transantar, achieving the first trans-Antarctic three-continental flight in history when a C-130 flew between Rio Gallegos; Marambio, Argentine Antarctica; Christchurch, New Zealand and Canberra, Australia.[10][11]

Modernization and Falklands War

During the 1970s the Air Force re-equipped itself with modern aircraft, including Mirage III interceptors, IAI Dagger multi-role fighters (Israeli derivatives of the Mirage V), A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft and C-130 Hercules cargo planes. A counter-insurgency airplane, the Pucará, was also used in substantial numbers.

The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Conflicto del Atlántico Sur), took a great toll on the Air Force, which lost 60 aircraft. After the war, due to the deteriorating economic situation, international opposition and political distrust of the military, the Air Force was denied the resources needed to replace the war losses. This, coupled with diminishing budgets, led to a period of reduced activity and growing materiel obsolescence.

Canberra preserved at Mar del Plata

After the war Britain imposed an arms embargo on Argentina, which was discontinued in the 1990s. After attempts to acquire surplus IAI Kfirs or F-16As 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.

Support to UN peacekeeping missions

The FAA has been greatly 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 FAA,[12] having achieved 10,000 flight hours by 2003 without any accidents.[13] The FAA has also since 2005 deployed Bell 212 helicopters to Haiti under MINUSTAH mandate.

In the 21st century

In early 2005 the top seventeen brigadiers of the Air Force, 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 Argentine airports (which were overseen by the National Aeronautic Police, a branch of the Air Force) and cover-ups of the scandal; it later became known that many government agencies, among them the Interior Ministry, the Customs Administration and the Secretariat of State Intelligence knew about the drug trafficking.[citation needed]

The primary concerns of the Air Force as of 2010 are the establishment of a radar network for control of the country's airspace, the replacement of its older combat aircraft (Mirage III, Mirage V) and the incorporation of new technologies. The possibility of purchasing surplus French Air Force Mirage 2000C fighters, like the option chosen by the Brazilian Air Force, has been considered.

Since the 1990s the FAA has established good relations with its neighbours, 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.

C-130s at 2010 Air Fest show

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 biojet fuel. The purpose of the project is to make the FAA less reliant on fossil fuels.

As of 2010 budgetary constraints continued, leading to the disbanding of the Boeing 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 to 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.

In August 2010 a contract was signed for two Mi-17E helicopters, plus an option on a further three, to support Antarctic bases[14][15] although no official destination form them have been release yet and is possible that they will be assigned to the Argentine Army Aviation.

Argentina planned to buy second-hand Mirage F1Ms from Spain in 2013 but that deal was put on hold for technical and political reasons.[16] The F1 deal may have been cancelled in favour of a US$500m deal for eighteen new-built Kfir Block 60s, which Israel could deliver within 15 months of a contract being signed.[16][17] The Spanish Mirage F1 deal was scrapped in March 2014 by Spain after pressure from the UK to not assist in FAA modernization over tensions between the countries over the Falkland Islands.[18]

Organization

The Argentine Air Force is one of the three branches of the Argentine military, having equal status with the Army and the Navy. The President of Argentina is Commander-in-Chief of all three services.

The Air Force is headed by the Chief of the General Staff (Jefe del Estado Mayor General), directly appointed and removed by the President. The Air Force 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 Air Force'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. A total of eight Air Brigades are currently 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:

  • One Air Group (Grupo Aéreo), which operates the aircraft assigned to the Brigade. The Air Group is divided into a variable number of Air Squadrons. Air Groups may be named according to their primary mission, for example an air group specialized in fighter operations receives the designation of Fighter Group (Grupo de Caza). Currently the Air Force includes three Fighter Groups (4th, 5th and 6th), one Attack Group (3rd), one Transport Group (1st) and three plain Air Groups (2nd, 7th and 9th). The 7th Air Group operates all the helicopters of the Air Force, while the 2nd includes a small reconnaissance unit as well as light transport aircraft. 9th Air Group is a light transport unit.
  • One Technical Group (Grupo Técnico), in charge of the maintenance and repair of the Brigade's aircraft.
  • One Base Group (Grupo Base), responsible for the air base itself, weather forecasting, flight control, runway maintenance, etc. Base Groups also include Base Flights (Escuadrillas de Base), generally made up of two or three liaison aircraft.

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" Materiel Areas (repairing and maintenance units) and "El Palomar" Logistical Area.

Order of battle

KC-130H aerial refuling aircraft.
IA-58A Pucará counter-insurgency aircraft.
A-4AR (Fightinghawk) ground-attack aircraft.
FMA Pampa trainer aircraft.
  1. 1st Air Transport Squadron (C-130 Hercules)
  2. 2nd Air Transport Squadron (Fokker F-28)
  1. 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron (Learjet 35A)
  2. 4th Air Transport Squadron (Fokker F-27)
  1. 2nd Attack Squadron (IA-58A Pucara)
  2. 3rd Attack Squadron (IA-58A Pucara)
  1. 1st Training Squadron (FMA IA 63 Pampa serie 2)
  2. 3rd Search and Rescue Squadron (SA-315B Lama)
  3. 4th Cruz del Sur Aerobatics Squadron (Su-29)
  4. Fighter School
  1. 1st Fighter-Bomber Squadron (A-4AR Fightinghawk)
  2. 2nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron (A-4AR Fightinghawk)
  1. 1st Fighter-Bomber Squadron (AMD Mirage 5P Mara)
  2. 2nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron (IAI Finger)
  3. 3rd Air Interceptor Squadron (AMD Mirage IIIEA/DA)
  1. 1st Search and Rescue Squadron (Bell 212)
  2. 2nd Tactical Squadron (Hughes 500D)
  3. 3rd Squadron (UH-1H)
  4. 4th Squadron (UH-1H, Hughes 500E)
  1. 6th Air Transport Squadron (SAAB 340B)
  2. 7th Air Transport Squadron (DHC-6 Twin Otter)
  1. Glider Flight
  2. Services Squadron
  3. Mentor Squadron (Grob G 120TP)
  4. Tucano Squadron (Embraer EMB-312 Tucano)

Ranks

Officers

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
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Brigadier General.svg OF-9 Brigadier General Brigadier General Air Chief Marshal General
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Brigadier Mayor.svg OF-8 Brigadier Mayor Brigadier-Major Air Marshal Lieutenant General
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Brigadier.svg 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
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Comodoro.svg OF-5 Comodoro Commodore Group Captain Colonel
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Vicecomodoro.svg OF-4 Vicecomodoro Vice-Commodore Wing Commander Lieutenant Colonel
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Mayor.svg OF-3 Mayor Major Squadron Leader Major
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Capitán.svg OF-2 Capitán Captain Flight Lieutenant Captain
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Primer Teniente.svg OF-1 Primer Teniente First Lieutenant Flying Officer First Lieutenant
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Teniente.svg OF-1 Teniente Lieutenant Pilot Officer Second Lieutenant
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Alférez.svg OF-D Alférez Ensign Acting Pilot Officer

Non-Commissioned Officers and Enlisted personnel

Insignia Rank in Spanish Rank in English US Air Force equivalent RAF equivalent
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Suboficial Mayor.svg Suboficial Mayor Sub-Officer Major Chief Master Sergeant,
Command Chief Master Sergeant
Warrant Officer
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Suboficial Principal.svg Suboficial Principal Principal Sub-Officer Senior Master Sergeant Chief Technician
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Suboficial Ayudante.svg Suboficial Ayudante Staff Sub-Officer or Adjutant Sub-Officer Master Sergeant Flight Sergeant
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Suboficial Auxiliar.svg Suboficial Auxiliar Auxiliary Sub-Officer Technical Sergeant Sergeant
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Cabo Principal.svg Cabo Principal Principal Corporal Staff Sergeant Corporal
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Cabo Primero.svg Cabo Primero Corporal First Class Senior Airman Junior Technician
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Cabo.svg Cabo Corporal Airman First Class Senior Aircraftman/Senior Aircraftwoman
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Volontario do Primero.svg Voluntario Primero Volunteer First Class Airman Leading Aircraftman/Leading Aircraftwoman
Fuerza Aerea Argentina - Volontario do Segundo.svg Voluntario Segundo Volunteer Second Class Airman Basic Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman

Aircraft

Current inventory

A FMA IA-63 Pampa for the Argentine Air Force
Argentine Air Force IA-58
An Aerospatiale SA-315 lifting off from Gabrielli International Airport
Aircraft Origin Type Version In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
A-4  United States fighter A-4AR 22[19]
IA 58  Argentina attack 31[19]
IA 63  Argentina attack 22 on order[19]
Mirage III  France interceptor Mirage IIIEA 6[19]
Mirage 5  France multirole Mirage 5P 4[19]
IAI Nesher  Israel multirole 4[19] version of the Mirage 5
Electronic Aircraft
Learjet 35  United States electronic warfare EC-21A 1[19]
Reconnaissance
Learjet 35  United States reconnaissance / utility 3[19]
Tanker
KC-130  United States refueling KC-130H 1[19]
Transport
Boeing 757  United States VIP 757-200 1[20] Presidential call sign Tengo 1
C-130 Hercules  United States transport C-130 L-100 4[19]
Fokker F27  Germany transport 4[19]
Fokker F28  Germany transport 3[19]
Helicopters
Bell 412  United States utility 2[19][21]
Bell 212  United States utility 8[19]
MD 500  United States light utility MD 500D 12[19]
Mil Mi-8  Russia utility Mi-171 2[19]
SA315  France liaison 2[19]
UH-1  United States utility UH-1H 1[19]
Trainer Aircraft
IA 63  Argentina jet trainer AT 63 18[19] 18 on order[19]
EMB-312  Brazil trainer 26[19]
G 120TP  Germany basic trainer 4[19] 5 on order[19]
Mirage III  France jet trainer Mirage IIIEA 2[19]
A-4  United States jet trainer OA-4AR 3[19]

Chiefs of the Argentine Air Force

See also

Argentine Military - other air services
Operational use
Units and related organisations

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ World Air Force 2014 - Flight International, Flightglobal.com, Accessed 23 November 2014
  2. ^ IISS 2010, pp. 64–67
  3. ^ Schnitzler, R.; Feuchter, G.W.; Schulz, R., eds. (1939). Handbuch der Luftwaffe [Aviation Manual] (in German) (3rd ed.). Munich and Berlin: J. F. Lehmanns Verlag. p. 13. 
  4. ^ "Douglas DC-3 & C-47 en la Fuerza Aérea Argentina - Avialatina". YouTube. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Primer aterrizaje de un Hércules C-130 en Marambio". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Gustavo Lepez. "TODA LA AVIACION - MALVINAS ARGENTINAS -". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Marambio Station on the webpage of the French Polar Teams.
  8. ^ "Aniversario Aereo de la Antartida Argentina". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Twin Otter picture
  10. ^ "The First Three-Continental and Transantarctic Flight". Fin del Mundo. Sitio Oficial de la Provincia de Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Primer Vuelo Transantártico Tricontinental. Operación "Transantar" (04 al 10-Oct-1973)" (in Spanish). Fundación Marambio. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "- Fuerza Area Argentina". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "VII Brigada Aerea". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Argentina formaliza la compra de cinco MI-17
  15. ^ "Iniciativa para reequipar a las FF.AA.". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Guevara, Inigo (2 January 2014). "Argentine Mirage F1 buy reportedly stalls". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. 
  17. ^ "Argentina seeks Kfir deal with Israel" January 13, 2014
  18. ^ Argentina; Spanish Mirage F-1 deal scrapped due to UK preassure - Dmilt.com, 7 March 2014
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 10". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Presidencia Introducción". aeromilitaria.com.ar. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Fuerza Aerea Argentina Bell 412". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 

External links