Argentina to buy 40 more Pampas

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Argentina's defence minister, Arturo Puricelli, has confirmed that a further 40 FAdeA IA-63 Pampas are to be purchased over the next four years, with delivery of the first aircraft due in late 2012 or early 2013.

With sources stating that work has already started on the first 10 airframes, it is understood the majority of the advanced trainers are earmarked for the Argentinian air force.

However, sources in Buenos Aires said 10 or 12 are to be allotted to the nation's naval air arm, to fill the void left by the retirement of its last Embraer EMB-326s in 2007.

The new aircraft will be built to the Pampa Series II standard, powered by a Honeywell TFE731-40-N2 engine, rated at 4,250lb static thrust. This offers a 21% power gain over the TFE731-2C used on earlier examples.

A prototype aircraft was successfully test flown with the new engine last June, and the Argentinian airframer expects to conclude certification trials early next year.

Meanwhile, the company has not dropped plans to develop a next-generation Pampa NG - with this to be optimised for the light strike role, with seven stations for external stores.

Additional features will include an air-to-air refuelling probe, redesigned air intakes, strengthened landing gear and a radar or laser rangefinder.

Split between two Mendoza-based units, the 12 surviving Pampas from an original 16-aircraft batch have all been upgraded to near Series II standard.

They are expected to be rotated through FAdeA's installations for re-engining, along with six newly built IA-63s delivered between 2004 and 2008.