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A-4AR Fightinghawk
An A-4AR during Air Fest 2010
Role Ground attack
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Introduction December 1997
Status operational
Primary user Argentine Air Force
Produced 1996–1999
Number built 36 converted
Developed from A-4M Skyhawk

The Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk is a major upgrade of the McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk attack aircraft developed for the Argentine Air Force which entered service in 1998. The program was named Fightinghawk in recognition of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was the source of its new avionics.

Design and development


The Falklands War in 1982 took a heavy toll on the Argentine Air Force, which lost over 60 aircraft. Due to the deteriorating national economic situation and political distrust of the military, the Air Force was denied the resources needed to replace its war losses.

The supply of modern combat aircraft had been restricted since the United States had imposed an arms embargo in 1978 for human rights abuses;[1] there were further restrictions when the United Kingdom also imposed an arms embargo in 1982. The only combat aircraft that the Air Force could obtain were ten Mirage 5Ps, transferred from the Peruvian Air Force; 19 Mirage IIICJs from Israel, veterans of the Six-Day War; and two Mirage IIIB trainers from the French Air Force.

In 1989, Carlos Menem was elected President of Argentina and quickly established a pro-United States foreign policy which lead to the country gaining Major non-NATO ally status.[2] Although the economic situation improved, the funds to purchase new combat aircraft like the Mirage 2000 remained unavailable.

In 1994, the United States made a counteroffer to modernize 36 ex-USMC A-4M Skyhawks in a US$282 million deal that would be carried out by Lockheed Martin and included the privatization of the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (Spanish for Military Aircraft Factory), now Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA. In 2010, FMA reverted to the Argentine government as Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FADEA).


Argentine Air Force technicians chose 32 A-4M (built between 1970/1976)[3][4] and 4 TA-4F[5] airframes from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona to upgrade. The upgrade plans included:

  • Complete overhaul of the airframe, wiring looms and the Pratt & Whitney J52P-408A engine
  • Installation of Douglas Escapac 1-G3 ejection seats
  • HGU-55/P helmets
  • Honeywell Normal Air-Garrett's OBOGS (On Board Oxygen Generation System)
  • Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-66V2 (ARG-1) radar
  • HOTAS controls and a 'glass' cockpit (2 CRT color screens)
  • Sextant Avionique/Thales Avionics SHUD
  • Litton/Northrop Grumman LN-100G inertial navigation system
  • MIL-STD-1553B data bus
  • Two General Dynamics Information Systems AN/AYK-14 mission computers
  • Northrop Grumman AN/ALR-93 (V)1 Radar warning receiver
  • AN/ALQ-126B jammer
  • AN/ALQ-162 jammer
  • ALR-47 chaff/flare dispenser
  • IFF AN/APX-72

The A-4M airframes were equipped with the TV and laser spot tracker Hughes AN/ASB-19 Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS) but these were removed after their conversion as A-4AR, as the radar could provide the same data.[citation needed]

The contract stipulated that 8 airframes would be refurbished at the Lockheed-Martin Plant in Palmdale, California and the rest (27) in Córdoba, Argentina at LMAASA (ex-FMA).

At least ten TA-4J and A-4M airframes for use as spare parts, eight additional engines, and a new A-4AR simulator were also delivered.

Operational history

Overflying the Obelisk of Buenos Aires during the Argentina Bicentennial

The Fightinghawks, having received Air Force serials C-901 to C-936, saw their first group arrive in Argentina on 18 December 1997 and the first "Argentine" A-4AR was rolled out on 3 August 1998 at Cordoba. The last one, number 936, was delivered to the Air Force in March 2000. Two aircraft (a one-seat and a two-seat) remain some time in the United States for weapons homologation.

All of the A-4ARs were delivered to the 5th Air Brigade (V Brigada Aérea) at Villa Reynolds, San Luis Province, where they replaced two squadrons of Falklands/Malvinas veteran A-4P (locally known A-4B) and A-4C. They were soon deployed in rotation around the country from Rio Gallegos in the south to Resistencia in the north where they were used intercept smugglers and drug trafficking airplanes.

In September 1998, just months after their arrival and again in April 2001, United States Air Force F-16s visited Villa Reynolds for the Southern Falcon joint exercise, known as Aguila (Spanish for Eagle) in Argentina. In 2004, the A-4ARs went abroad for the joint exercise Cruzex, along with Brazilian F-5s and Mirages, Venezuelan F-16s and French Mirage 2000s.

In November 2005 they were deployed to Tandil airbase to enforce a no-fly zone for the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas and later met Chilean Mirage Elkans, Brazilian AMXs and Uruguayan A-37 at Mendoza for the joint exercise Ceibo.

In July 2006 they were deployed to Cordoba province for the Mercosur's 30th Presidents Summit, while in August and September they went north again to Brazil for the Cruzex III joint exercise with Brazil, Chile, France, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In June 2008 they were deployed to Tucumán province for the Mercosur's Presidents Summit.

In August 2009 they were deployed to Bariloche for the UNASUR Presidents summit. Later that month they participated at Reconquista, Santa Fe of the Pre-Salitre official video an exercise of preparation for the Salitre II oficial video of next October in Chile with Chile, Brazil, France and the United States[6][7]

On 1 May 2010 they participated on the Air Fest 2010 show at Morón Airport and Air Base video. On 25 May 2010 three A-4AR flew over the 9 de Julio Avenue at Buenos Aires as part of the Argentina Bicentennial shows.[8]

On August 2010, enforce a no-fly zone at San Juan for the Mercosur's Presidents Summit. On September they join the rest of the air force aircraft at Reconquista, Santa Fe for the ICARO III integration manoeuvers.[9] On November they deploy to Tandil airbase for the XX Ibero-American Summit held at Mar del Plata


Argentina Air Force McDonnell Douglas A-4AR Fightinghawk.



As of February 2013, after 15 years of service, three A-4ARs have been lost:

  • 6 July 2005: near Justo Daract, San Luis Province, pilot Lt Horacio Martín Flores (29 years old), died.[10]
  • 24 August 2005: near Río Cuarto, Cordoba, pilot ejected safely.[11]
  • 14 February 2013: "Vice Comodoro Angel Aragonés" airport near Santiago del Estero, both pilots ejected safely.

Specifications (A-4AR Fightinghawk)

Orthographically projected diagram of the A-4 Skyhawk.

Data from FAA Official site and A-4 Skyhawk

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 (2 in OA-4AR)
  • Length: 40 ft 3 in (12.30 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 11 in (4.57 m)
  • Wing area: 259 ft² (24.15 m²)
  • Empty weight: 4,900 kg (10,803 lbs)
  • Loaded weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lbs)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 24,500 lb (11,136 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J52P-408A Turbojet, 11,200 lbf (50.0 kN)


  • Maximum speed: 1080 km/h (671 mph)
  • Range: 1,700 nm (2,000 mi, 3,220 km)
  • Service ceiling: 42,250 ft (12,880 m)
  • Rate of climb: 8,440 ft/min (43 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 70.7 lb/ft² (344.4 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.51


See also


  1. backing the Humphrey-Kennedy amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1976, the Carter administration placed an embargo on the sale of arms and spare parts to Argentina and on the training of its military personnel
  2. ... represents our recognition of the importance of Argentina's leadership and cooperation in the field of international peacekeeping, notably during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, in Haiti, in its role in supervising the peace between Peru and Ecuador, and in nearly a dozen other international peacekeeping efforts ...
  3. Six A-4M batches Serials
  4. [1] C-905 = 159472, C-906 = 158161, C-907 = 158167, C-908 = 158178 C-909 = 158419, C-910 = 158193, C-911 = 158429, C-912 = 159471 C-913 = 159493, C-914 = 159778, C-915 = 159780, C-916 = 160029 C-917 = 158164, C-918 = 158423, C-919 = 158171, C-920 = 158426 C-921 = 159475, C-922 = 160045, C-923 = 159470, C-924 = 160025 C-925 = 158413, C-926 = 160032, C-927 = 160035, C-928 = 160039 C-929 = 160040, C-930 = 160042, C-931 = 160043, C-932 = 159478 C-933 = 159483, C-934 = 159486, C-935 = 159487, C-936 = 159783
  5. Two seats C-901 BuNo 154328, C-902 BuNo 154294, C-903 BuNo 154651 & C-904 BuNo 153531 are TA-4F built airframes later converted to the OA-4M variant. On the contrary the single seats were originally built as A-4M
  6. ejercicio pre salitre 2009' FAA site
  7. [2]
  8. A-AR volando en el cielo del Bicentenario' Perfil Blogs
  10. "Accidentes aéreos en San Luis" (Spanish)
  11. "Se estrelló un A-4AR de la FAA" (Spanish)

External links

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