The proposed sale of 12 Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina (LMAASA)-built AT-63 Pampa advanced trainer/light attack aircraft to Bolivia is expected to be the subject of forthcoming discussions between Argentinian president Nestor Kirchner and his Bolivian counterpart Carlos Mesa. If agreed, the purchase is expected to be concluded under a bilateral agreement that will see Bolivia increase its annual deliveries of natural gas to its southern neighbour.


Bolivia has a long-standing requirement to upgrade its advanced trainer fleet, which currently comprises 18 Kelowna Flightcraft-modernised Lockheed T-33s that have been in service for almost 20 years. According to local sources, the discussions between Kirchner and Mesa will include the proposed sale of 12 Pampas equipped with uprated Honeywell TFE731-5 engines.


Underlining its interest in the AT-63 to revamp the jet training syllabus at its training establishment, a Bolivian air force delegation recently visited LMAASA facilities in Argentina, and service officials have also conducted test flights with the aircraft.


Although the company has been repeatedly unsuccessful at securing export orders for its earlier IA-58 Pucara ground-attack aircraft and the baseline IA-63 Pampa trainer, LMAASA has traditionally provided overhaul services for a number of aircraft types now in service with the Bolivian air force. For example, it took delivery of two Beech T-34 Mentor trainers early last month as part of a 10-aircraft overhaul and modernisation contract with the service.


LMAASA has a previous contract in place to deliver 12 AT-63 Pampas to the Argentine air force.


Source: Flight International