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Argentine Air Force A-4



Argentine Air Force A-4 Skyhawk

The Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina or FAA) is the national aviation branch of the armed forces of Argentina. As of 2007, it had 14,606 airmen and 6,854 civilians on duty.


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 several 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) was founded in Córdoba, which would become the heart of the country's aviation industry.

By the 1940s there were several air units in the Army and the Navy, and 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.

Immediately after the end of World War II, the Air Force 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, in collaboration with German 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 flights to supply the early Antarctic scientific bases, expanding its activities in the Antarctic continent and establishing Marambio Base on 25 September 1969.

During the 1970s, the Air Force reequipped itself with modern aircraft for the period, including the 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.
FAA A-4 Skyhawk pilots - May 1982

The Falklands War, termed by the Argentines Guerra de las Malvinas / Guerra del Atlántico Sur, took a great toll on the Air Force, which lost 60 aircraft. Due to the deteriorating economic situation, international opposition and political distrust upon 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.

In the 1990s, the British embargo was officially eliminated and after economic and political failure attempts of getting surplus IAI Kfirs or F-16As, the United States sold 36 refurbished A-4M Skyhawk (known as A-4AR Fightinghawks.) Since their reception, the A-4AR demonstrated being a worthy replacement of the Bravos and Charlies that fought during 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[2], achieving 10,000 flight hours (as of 2003) without any accidents [3]. The FAA has also since 2005 deployed Bell 212 helicopters to Haiti under MINUSTAH mandate.

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 drug traffic scandal 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, even though 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 traffic operations.

The primary concerns of the Air Force nowadays 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 had established good relations with neighbours Brazilian Air Force and Chilean Air Force. They annually meet, on a rotation basis, in the join exercises Cruzex in Brazil, Ceibo in Argentina and Salitre in Chile.

In 2007, an FAA FMA IA 58 Pucará was converted to carry 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 project intends to make the FAA less reliant on costly fossil fuels.

As of 2010, constraint budget policy continued leading to the disband of the Boeing 707 transport squadron and maintenance problems for half of the C-130 Hercules fleet. This was particulary evident when in a matter of days on March of this year the same C-130s could be seen, among their routinely missions, traveling 3 to times to Haiti, 9 times to Chile (in both cases delivering humanitarian aid) and also doing a resuply airdrop to the Argentine southermost antarctic base Belgrano II.
[edit] 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 the Air Force as well as of the other branches of the military.

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, commonly abbreviated "BAM").

Each Air Brigade is made up of three Groups, each of which bear the same numeral as its 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.
[edit] Ranks
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