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Argentine Air Force
Fuerza Aérea Argentina
Argentine airforce emblem.png
The Argentine Air Force Emblem.
Active 1945–Present
Country Argentina
Size 14,600 personnel
177 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) [2]
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
Fighter A-4AR, Mirage 5A
Interceptor Mirage IIIEA
Trainer T-34, Tucano, Pampa, Grob 120
Transport C-130, Fokker F28, Fokker F27, DHC-6

The Argentine Air Force (Spanish language: Fuerza Aérea Argentina , or simply FAA) is the national aviation branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic. As of 2015, it had 14,600 military personnel and 6,900 civilian personnel.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

FAA F-86 Sabre

The Air Force's history begins with the establishment of the Argentine Army Aviation'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.

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.

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 Corsairdisambiguation needed variants, Consolidated P2Y, and Grumman J2F Duck.[4]

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, 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.

In 1952 the Air Force began flight to supply the Antarctic scientific bases using ski-equipped C-47s [5] and establishing Marambio Base on 25 September 1969. On 11 April 1970 [6] 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,[7] 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.[8][9] and since the 1970s Twin Otters are also deployed.[10]

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. Also, a counter-insurgency airplane, the Pucará, was used in substantial numbers.

On October 1973, The FAA made the first Antarctic flight through 3 continents when a C-130 flew between Rio Gallegos, Base Marambio, Christchurch Nueva Zelanda and Canberra Australia.[11]

The Falklands War ( Spanish language: 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.

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 sold Argentina 36 A-4AR Fightinghawks, a refurbished and upgraded version of the A-4 Skyhawks used in the war.

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.

Canberra preserved at Mar del Plata

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.

The primary concerns of the Air Force as of 2014 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 2015 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 of that year, 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.

In 2013 Argentina reached an agreement to acquire another 20 second hand Mirage fighter bombers from Spain.[16]

Organization[edit | edit source]

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.

Ranks[edit | edit source]

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
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

Enlisted personnel and Non-Commissioned Officers

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
SA-FAA.svg Suboficial Ayudante Staff Sub-Officer or Adjutant Sub-Officer Master Sergeant Flight Sergeant
SX-FAA.svg Suboficial Auxiliar Auxiliary Sub-Officer Technical Sergeant Sergeant
CP-FAA.svg Cabo Principal Principal Corporal Staff Sergeant Corporal
CI-FAA.svg Cabo Primero Corporal First Class Senior Airman Junior Technician
CB-FAA.svg Cabo Corporal Airman First Class Senior Aircraftman/Senior Aircraftwoman
VP-FAA.svg Voluntario Primero Volunteer First Class Airman Leading Aircraftman/Leading Aircraftwoman
VS-FAA.svg Voluntario Segundo Volunteer Second Class Airman Basic Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman

Order of battle[edit | edit source]

  • 1st Air Brigade (El Palomar Military Air Base, Buenos Aires Province) in El Palomar Airport
  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)
  • 6th Air Brigade (Tandil Military Air Base, Buenos Aires Province, Mirage IIIEA/DA, Mirage 5PA, IAI Finger) in Tandil Airport
  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 (Mentor B-45)
  4. Tucano Squadron (Embraer EMB-312 Tucano)

)

Aircraft inventory[edit | edit source]

KC-130H aerial refuling aircraft.

IA-58A Pucará counter-insurgency aircraft.

A-4AR (Fightinghawk) ground-attack aircraft.

FMA Pampa trainer aircraft.

The FAA operates 177 aircraft[1] of various types. This includes 8 fighter aircraft and 31 ground-attack aircraft. In addition the FAA has 32 turboprop aircraft used for Counter-insurgency and close-air-support missions.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions Quantity[1] Notes
Fixed-wing aircraft
Lockheed C-130 Hercules United States Aerial refueling
Transport aircraft
KC-130H
C-130H
1
7
Sukhoi Su-29  Russia Aerobatic aircraft Su-29 7 On reserve.
Saab-340  Sweden Airliner Saab-340B 4
FMA IA 58 Pucará  Argentina Counter-insurgency aircraft IA-58A 32 Turboprop aircraft. 30 will be upgraded.
Grob G-120 GermanyGermany Trainer aircraft G-120TP 10
Dassault Mirage F1  France Fighter aircraft M-F1M 18 Purchased from Spanish Air Army (Spanish Air Force).
A-4AR Fightinghawk United States Ground-attack aircraft A-4AR
OA-4AR
23
3
One lost on 14 February 2013.[17] Will be decommissioned in 2018.[18]
Embraer Tucano  Brazil Trainer aircraft EMB-312 26 6 are on lease from Brazil.
FMA IA 63 Pampa  Argentina Trainer aircraft
Aerobatic aircraft
AT-63 19 40 more on order, 28 for the air force and 12 for the navy.[19]
Learjet 35 United States Utility transport EC-21A 3
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Utility transport DHC-6-200 8
Fokker F27 Friendship  Netherlands Utility transport 5
Fokker F28 Fellowship  Netherlands Utility transport 5
Learjet 60 United States VIP transport 1
Rotatory-wing aircraft
Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama  France Search and rescue SA 315B 2
Bell 212 Twin Huey United States Utility helicopter 8
Mil Mi-17 Utility helicopter Mi-171E 2
MD Helicopters MD 500 United States Utility helicopter
Training helicopter
500D/E 12

Retired Aircraft[edit | edit source]

  • IAI Dagger (IAI Finger) Israel. Had 14 in service.

Developed from Dassault Mirage 5 IAI Finger all the fleet - decommissioned in 2012.[citation needed]

Chiefs of the Argentine Air Force[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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