Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina has delivered the first locally upgraded A-4AR to the Argentine air force. Eight aircraft upgraded in the USA by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works are already in service with the air force at Villa Reynolds AB.

The latest aircraft is the first of 27 to be upgraded by the former air force-owned FMA plant at Cordoba, now operated by Lockheed Martin as part of the deal to refurbish the ex-US Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas A-4Ms.

Nine aircraft were upgraded in the USA. One has been retained at the Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, to complete software development, and will be delivered in October or November, says Jim Taylor, president of Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina.

The upgrade includes the ARG-1 multi-mode radar, a derivative of Northrop Grumman's APG-66, a head-up display, dual colour multi-function displays, mission computer, dual laser inertial navigation/- global positioning systems, new radios, radar-warning receiver and chaff/flare dispenser and onboard oxygen generation. The airfame is refurbished and rewired and the engine overhauled.

The Cordoba plant will deliver seven A-4ARs by year-end and complete the programme by the end of 1999, Taylor says. Lockheed Martin is now pursuing other A-4 work. Argentina has requested 12-18 ex-US Navy TA-4J advanced trainers, with Bolivia seeking a similar number, while the Brazilian navy has received 23 ex-Kuwaiti A-4KUs. All will need maintaining and upgrading, Taylor says.

The company has teamed with Thomson-CSF in a bid to upgrade the Argentine air force's Dassault Mirages and has submitted an unsolicited bid to standardise and upgrade the air force's mixed fleet of 13 Lockheed Martin C-130/ L-100s. A contract to upgrade 17 Israeli-supplied Mirage 5s could be awarded next year.

Source: Flight International