List of Douglas A-4 Skyhawk operators

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The List of Douglas A-4 Skyhawk operators lists the countries and their military units that operate or have operated the Skyhawk.

Current operators of the A-4 in blue, former operators in red.
Last of the many: Skyhawk No. 2960 on 27 February 1979.

Military operators[edit]

 Argentina[edit]

Argentine Air Force

The Argentine Air Force used 50 A-4P (ex U.S. Navy A-4B) with V Air Brigade, and 25 A-4C (IV Air Brigade) from 1965 to 1999. 19 were lost during the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas) . All were replaced by refurbished A-4Ms, designated as A-4AR Fightinghawk, in 1999. Also an unknown number of A-4E, TA-4J and A-4M was/is used as spare parts.

Argentine Naval Aviation

The 3rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the Argentine Navy used 16 A-4Q (ex A-4B US Navy) for operations from the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2) from 1971 to 1988. During the Falklands War they operated from land bases and three were lost.

 Australia[edit]

A Skyhawk on HMAS Melbourne in 1976
A Skyhawk lands on HMAS Melbourne, 1980
Royal Australian Navy

Australia ordered ten A-4G Skyhawks in October 1965 to replace all of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm's de Havilland Venom fighters which operated from HMAS Melbourne, the Royal Australian Navy's only active carrier. The Australian incorporated modifications such as being fitted to carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking air-to-air missiles - the Skyhawk was purchased primarily to serve in the air defence role, as it was the only modern high performance jet capable of operating from the deck the small World War II -surplus light carrier Melbourne , which could not operate other larger fighters of the era. These aircraft retained the strike capabilities of its US counterparts and could carry 250-pound or 500-pound bombs, 2.75-inch or 5-inch rocket pods, and other stores for use in the maritime strike, close air support, or fleet defense roles. Changes were also made to the avionics fit and the aircraft did not have the A-4F's dorsal "hump."[1]

The first two Australian A-4Gs were handed over to the Royal Australian Navy on 26 July 1967, with all ten aircraft transported to Australia from the United States onboard HMAS Melbourne in November 1967. An order for a further eight A4-Gs and two TA-4Gs was placed in March 1970. These aircraft were former USN A-4Fs and TA-4Fs and were modified to A/TA-4G standard and arrived in Australia in August 1971 on board the troop transport HMAS Sydney. All of the A-4Gs operated from HMAS Melbourne and were based at the naval air station HMAS Albatross. The TA-4Gs could not be operated from Melbourne, as the carrier was too small to enable them to be safely operated.[1] The Australian Skyhawks were gradually withdrawn from service from 1982 after HMAS Melbourne was decommissioned without being replaced in June 1982; the last flight took place on 30 June 1984.[2]

Two Fleet Air Arm squadrons were equipped with A-4Gs:

  • 805 Squadron (Eight A-4G and briefly two TA-4G, followed by a total of ten ex-USN A-4F and TA-4F modified to G standard. Withdrawn from use 1983). Ten aircraft lost in crashes. During the A-4G Skyhawk era the Squadron was designated VF-805 conforming with USN squadron designations. The 'VF' signaled the Fleet Defense role of the Skyhawk. V=Fixed Wing, F=Fighter. Over the life of the aircraft there were a number of different squadron aircraft paint schemes.[3]
  • VC-724 Squadron (six A-4G plus 4 TA-4G, withdrawn from use 1982). This squadron was the Skyhawk Operational Flying School where pilots were converted to the A-4G and learned the necessary operational skills. When VF-805 ceased flying A-4Gs, its aircraft were reassigned to VC-724 squadron.[3]

Following the withdrawal of the A-4G from Australian service, eight surviving A-4G and two TA-4Gs were sold to New Zealand's Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1984 and were subsequently upgraded to A-4K specifications and later with the RNZAF "Kahu" program, with HOTAS, Maverick missile capability, and glass cockpit. Ironically, the RAN paid for some of the New Zealand aircraft to undertake target towing and maritime strike training roles.[4]

A-4B 142871 was altered to appear like the A-4G models used by VF-805 squadron and is on display since November 1999. Displayed first as A-4G 154906 (885) and then since 2007 as A-4G 154903 (882). Has been loaned to Fleet Air Arm Museum (Australia) at HMAS Albatross by the US Department of Navy.[5][6][7]

Brazilian AF-1 on São Paulo

 Brazil[edit]

Brazilian Navy
  • Brazil acquired 20 Kuwaiti A-4KU in 1997 for operations from the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo, which had been bought from France. The Brazilian Navy re-designated the refurbished A-4KUs as AF-1. Three TA-4KUs were also bought for training and re-designated AF-1A. Twelve A-4's (9 A-4KU and 3 TA-4KU) will be modernized by EMBRAER, to whom three aircraft have been delivered by the Brazilian Navy as of 11/14/2012.[8]

 Indonesia[edit]

An Indonesian A-4H on display.
Indonesian Air Force

Indonesia used 30 A-4E, two TA-4H and two TA-4Js from 1980 to 2003. The aircraft were obtained from the Israeli Air Force and some had seen previous American service in Vietnam. The first aircraft were flying from May 1980 from Halim Perdana Kusuma AFB, Jakarta.

In the 1970s the Indonesian Air Force had bought Northrop F-5 Tigers from the United States but were not allowed to use them in operations related to East Timor. As a solution Indonesia was offered 14 former Israeli Air Force A-4E Skyhawks which could be operated without restrictions. Being sensitive to be seen dealing with Israel the aircraft were actually purchased by Singapore to divert attention. The first batch of Indonesian aircrew were trained in Israel but returned to Indonesia via the United States to build up a cover story that they had been trained in the USA. As part of Operasi Alpha the first four aircraft (two A-4Es and two TA-4Hs) were shipped via Singapore and arrived in Indonesia on 4 May 1980. The rest of the aircraft were shipped in the same manner every five weeks with the last delivery in September 1980. The aircraft were first displayed in public during the Armed Forces Day on 5 October 1980. A further sixteen A-4Es were obtained in 1981 and 1982 as Operasi Alpha II. The Operasi Alpha I aircraft were used to replace the Lockheed T-33As with Skadron Udara 11 at Iswahyudi Air Force Base and this unit was used initially as a transition squadron for Skyhawk training. The Operasi Alpha II aircraft were allocated to Skadron Udara 12.

SKu12 converted to the BAe Hawk in the 1990s but SKu11 continued to operate the Skyhawk until 2003 when were replaced by two Russian Su-27SK and two Su-30MK. However, the Indonesian Air Force is planning to reactivate the A-4 Skyhawks by buying spare parts, after the United States ended its weapons and spare part sales embargo. The aircraft made its final flight on 5 August 2005 from Makassar (Sulawesi) to Madiun (Java).

 Israel[edit]

IAF A-4N Skyhawk
Israeli Air Force

The Israeli Air Force once operated 278 A-4s (46 A-4E, 90 A-4H, 117 A-4N, 25 TA-4H). The A-4H/TA-4H were delivered starting in 1968, and were immediately pressed into service in the ongoing War of Attrition. In May 1970 the type scored its sole aerial kills with the IAF when Ezra Dotan shot down a pair of Syrian MiG-17s, one using unguided air-to-ground rockets.[9] During the Yom Kippur War the aircraft flew a total of 4695 sorties, losing 53 aircraft. These prompted the US to initiate Operation Nickel Grass which provided Israel with 46 A-4Es as replacements during the war. In 1983 An A-4 was also involved in an unusual midair collision with an F-15 Eagle. The Eagle returned to base and landed despite losing its entire right wing while the A-4 was destroyed. The remaining 50 A-4N aircraft are currently being used for pilot training. These will be retired in 2015 and replaced by Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master training jets.[10][11]

 Kuwait[edit]

Assembly of an A-4KU in 1977.
Kuwaiti Air Force

Kuwait bought 30 A-4KU and six TA-4KU in 1976 and used them until 1997. During the 1991 Gulf war one was lost in combat and twelve due to other causes. The survivors of Operation Desert Storm were replaced by F/A-18 Hornet and sold to Brazil.

 Malaysia[edit]

A Malaysian A-4PTM, 1986.
Royal Malaysian Air Force

The Royal Malaysian Air Force acquired a total of 88 A-4C and A-4L aircraft, although only 40 were rebuilt to A-4PTM (Peculiar To Malaysia) standard, which included a new bombing computer, body refurbishments and wiring updates. The remaining 48 aircraft were stored for spare parts. These aircraft are stored at the Kuantan Air Force base / Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport on the east coast of the Malayan peninsula.

The Skyhawk has been replaced in the attack role by the more sophisticated Boeing F/A-18D Night Strike Hornet (eight purchased), BAE Systems Hawk 200 (18 acquired) and BAE Systems Hawk 100 (ten acquired).

 New Zealand[edit]

A-4Ks at Clark Air Base, 1984
A No. 75 Sqn TA-4K in 1984
Royal New Zealand Air Force

Ten A-4K single-seaters, and four TA-4K two-seaters, were purchased by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1969 as English Electric Canberra replacements, and shipped to New Zealand aboard the assault carrier USS Okinawa in 1970.[12] The A-4K is broadly comparable to the A-4F and G, although featuring extra avionics in a dorsal "hump", as adopted by later A-4Fs, cranked refuelling probe, and other minor changes. In 1984, ten ex-Australian A-4Gs were purchased. Under project KAHU, all aircraft updated to the A-4K Kahu standard, essentially by adopting the avionics from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, giving them the ability to use laser-guided bombs, as well as AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles. Kahu is Māori for hawk.[13] Miniaturization enabled the hump to be removed from the older New Zealand aircraft at the same time. The A-4Ks operated from Ohakea in New Zealand and Nowra in Australia equipped 2 and 75 Squadron RNZAF.

The survivors were retired in 2001, and were to be sold in 2005 to a private US flight training firm in a $150 million deal. That transaction did not go through, but the aircraft were subsequently purchased in 2011/2012 by USA based defense contractor, Draken International. The aircraft are currently based at their Lakeland, FL facility.

 Singapore[edit]

an A-4SU in 2002.
Republic of Singapore Air Force

In total, around 150 airframes, all A-4Bs and Cs, were purchased by Singapore. The first batch joined the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in 1974. Some were modified in the late 1980s to A-4SU and TA-4SU standard with General Electric F404 engines and modernized avionics. With a few used as training aircraft based at the BA 120 Cazaux airbase in France.

RSAF units that flew the A-4 before retirement:

 United States[edit]

Units that flew the A-4 before retirement:

United States Navy[edit]

An A4D-1 of VA-93 in 1957.
A4D-2s of VA-81 in 1961.
A VSF-1 A-4C, 1969.
A VA-94 A-4E approaching USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), 1970.
An A-4F of VA-127, 1975.
A TA-4F of VA-164.
The last U.S. Navy Skyhawks: a TA-4J of VC-8, 2003.
An A4D-2 of VMA-332, 1960.

United States Marine Corps[edit]

A VMA-214 A-4M in 1980.

VMA-121 "Green Knights" [71]

United States Navy Reserve[edit]

A VA-205 A-4L in 1975.

Civilian operators[edit]

 United States[edit]

Top Aces

Canadian owned company Top Aces, (formerly known as Advanced Training Systems International), based at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport purchased ten A-4Ns and three TA-4Js from Israel in 2000. They are available for a variety of training and testing tasks, including Dissimilar air combat training, pilot training (providing lead-in Fighter training for the pilots of the United Arab Emirates' F-16E/Fs) and providing a high speed platform for test and evaluation purposes. One aircraft was destroyed in a crash in 2003 and a further two sold in 2006.[72]

Collings Foundation

The Massachusetts-based non-profit organization operates one ex-US Navy TA-4J N524CF (was BuNo 153524) as part of its "living history" flight program. It was acquired from AMARC in 2004, and is now based out of Houston, Texas. The organization offers licensed pilots the opportunity to purchase dual instruction time in the aircraft.

Draken International

The Florida-based Aggressor Squadron operates eleven A-4 Skyhawks formerly of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

 Germany[edit]

BAE Systems provides four former Israeli A-4Ns as target tugs for the German Air Force since 2001, replacing North American F-100 Super Sabres. The Skyhawks are operated by the BAE subsidiary E.I.S. Aircraft GmbH at Wittmund, the base of the Jagdgeschwader 71. In 2007 2 more A-4Ns were added.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilson 1993, p. 151.
  2. ^ Wilson 1993, p. 171-172.
  3. ^ a b Wilson 1993, p. 161.
  4. ^ Wilson 1993, p. 174-176.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  6. ^ http://a4skyhawk.org/content/142871-fleet-air-arm-museum-calum-gibson-640
  7. ^ http://www.navy.gov.au/aircraft/mcdonnell-douglas-a4g-skyhawk
  8. ^ "Modernização dos A-4 da Marinha do Brasil" (in Portuguese) Retrieved: 23 Dec 2011
  9. ^ Aloni, Shlomo (2009). Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units in Combat. Combat Aircraft. UK: Osprey. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-1-84603-430-5. 
  10. ^ Arie Egozi. "Israel selects Alenia Aermacchi M-346 for trainer deal". Flightglobal.com. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  11. ^ Katz, Yaakov (16 February 2012). "Italy wins IAF with combat trainer jet bid". JPost. 
  12. ^ Treweek, Phillip. "McDonnell Douglas (T)A-4K Skyhawk: Background". kiwiaircraftimages.com. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  13. ^ Maori dictionary
  14. ^ CyberPioneer back issue Archived 25 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. MINDEF's Pioneer magazine September 2002.
  15. ^ VA-12 Flying Ubangis
  16. ^ VA-15 Valions
  17. ^ VA-22 Fighting Redcocks
  18. ^ VA-23 Black Knights
  19. ^ VA-34 Blue Blasters
  20. ^ VA-36 Roadrunners
  21. ^ VA-43 (VF-43) Challengers
  22. ^ VA-44 (VF-44) Hornets
  23. ^ VA-45 (VF-45) Blackbirds
  24. ^ VA-46 Clansmen
  25. ^ VA-55 Warhorses
  26. ^ VA-56 Champions
  27. ^ VA-64 Black Lancers
  28. ^ VA-66 Waldos
  29. ^ VA-72 Blue Hawks
  30. ^ VA-76 Spirits
  31. ^ VA-81 Sunliners
  32. ^ VA-83 Rampagers
  33. ^ VA-86 Sidewinders
  34. ^ VA-93 Blue Blazers
  35. ^ VA-94 Mighty Shrikes
  36. ^ VA-95 Green Lizards
  37. ^ VA-106 Gladiators
  38. ^ VA-112 Broncos
  39. ^ VA-113 Stingers
  40. ^ VA-125 Rough Raiders
  41. ^ VA-126 (VF-126) Bandits
  42. ^ VA-127 (VF-127) Batmen
  43. ^ VA-133 Blue Knights
  44. ^ VA-134 Scorpions
  45. ^ VA-144 Roadrunners
  46. ^ VA-146 Blue Diamonds
  47. ^ VA-152 Fighting Aces
  48. ^ VA-153 Blue Tail Flies
  49. ^ VA-155 Silver Fox
  50. ^ VA-163 Saints
  51. ^ VA-164 Ghost Riders
  52. ^ VA-172 Blue Bolts
  53. ^ VA-192 Golden Dragons
  54. ^ VA-195 Dambusters
  55. ^ VA-212 Rampant Raiders
  56. ^ VA-216 Black Diamonds
  57. ^ VC-1 Blue Alii (Warriors)
  58. ^ VC-2 Falcons
  59. ^ VC-5 Checkertails
  60. ^ VC-7 Redtails
  61. ^ VC-8 Redtails
  62. ^ VC-10 Challengers
  63. ^ VC-12 (VFC-12) Fighting Omars
  64. ^ VC-13 (VFC-13) Saints
  65. ^ VF-171 Aces (Detachment Key West)
  66. ^ A-4 Skyhawk.org VFAW-3 Squadron
  67. ^ VSF-1 Warhawks
  68. ^ VSF-3 Chessmen
  69. ^ VSF-76 Saints
  70. ^ VSF-86 Gators
  71. ^ http://a4skyhawk.org/4e/vma121/vma121.htm
  72. ^ Carrara 2008, pp.50—53.

References[edit]

  • Aloni, Shlomo. Israeli A-4 Skyhawk Units in Combat (Osprey Combat Aircraft #81). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84603-430-5.
  • Carrara, Dino. "ATSI — A-4 Skyhawks For Hire". Air International, Vol 75 No. 6, December 2008. Stamford, Lincs, UK:Key Publishing. pp. 50–53.
  • Chant, Chris. Air War in the Falklands 1982 (Osprey Combat Aircraft #28). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 978-1-84176-293-7.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Phantom, Hornet and Skyhawk in Australian Service. Weston Creek, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 1993. ISBN 9781875671038