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Argentina to retrofit aging IA-58 Pucará into Fenix ISR model

The Argentine air force plans to retrofit an undisclosed number of IA-58 Pucara light attack aircraft into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) variants, renaming the type as the IA-58 Fenix.

Buenos Aires operates 25 IA-58s, according to Flight International’s 2019 World Air Forces Directory.

The aircraft, which were built by state-owned Fábrica Militar de Aviones, entered service in 1975. The turboprop attack aircraft first flew in 1969, and 107 examples were produced between 1974 and 1999.

Asset Image

Upgraded example of the IA-58 Fenix

Argentine air force

The IA-58 is being transitioned into an ISR role because it is logistically difficult to support and is hindered by outdated systems, says the Argentine air force in a media release on 3 October.

The Argentine air force plans a number of upgrades to keep its fleet of IA-58s operational for 15 to 20 more years.

Argentina plans to swap out the aircraft’s two French-made Turbomeca Astazou turboprop engines for Pratt & Whitney PT6A-62s turboprops. The aircraft’s three-blade propellers will be changed out for four-blade propellers made by Hartzell.

The aircraft will gain new ISR equipment, such as a multi-spectral sensor, laser target designator and synthetic-aperture radar.

New communications intelligence equipment will also be installed, including a satellite data modem.

Argentina also operates a fleet of 24 Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk attack aircraft.

In July, it was reported that the country was interested in buying a dozen FA-50 light attack jets from Korea Aerospace Industries, though that prospective order has not been confirmed by the government.