Argentinian naval aviation command seeks Pampa deal

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The head of Argentina's naval aviation command has outlined the service's procurement plans, which include the acquisition of new jet trainers, transports and helicopters, plus improved maritime strike aircraft.

Rear Adm Rafael Cornejo Solá says the service will prioritise the development of a "navalised" version of FAdeA's AT-63 Pampa. It requires between eight and 12 of the type to replace its 10 Beech T-34C trainers.

Local sources suggest that the new version of the Pampa would be a slight modification to the upgraded AT-63 (below) being marketed to potential export customers Chile and Uruguay.

 at-63 pampa,
© FAdeA

Featuring an upgraded engine and improved avionics, it would have a reinforced landing gear, but would not be intended to operate from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Another top priority is to replace the navy's remaining two Fokker F28 transports, with Cornejo Solá saying that studies are focused on Airbus Military's C-295.

The selection process will be managed by the Argentinian defence ministry, he says, and could lead to the purchase of 15 aircraft to meet air force, army and navy requirements.

Sources suggest that five or six Eurocopter AS555SNs could be bought to replace the navy's SA316 Alouette III helicopters (below), which are planned for retirement next year. The service already operates four AS555s.

 
© US Navy

The navy will meanwhile upgrade its remaining Dassault carrier strike aircraft to the French navy's Super Etendard Modernisé standard from next year, with the work to conclude by 2012-13. Argentina has 11 of the type in use, says Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

Local sources suggest that negotiations are also under way to purchase a further six surplus French examples as attrition replacements.