Argentine Air Force Modernizes its Aircraft Fleet

Argentine Air Force Modernizes its Aircraft Fleet

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
November 16, 2017

Los aviones Texan II no son necesarios, primero porque nosotros tenemos aviones Pucará que hay que actualizar, segundo porque Brasil tiene aviones similares y es nuestro socio en la región, tercero no tenemos porque hacer más ricos a los EEUU comprando un avion turbohelice cuando nosotros estamos haciendo los IA 63 Pampa que son altamente superiores. Lo que nos hace falta son aviones supersonicos YA. Argentina contracted 12 next generation Beechcraft T-6C+ Texan II aircraft from the United States to train its future Air Force pilots. The purchase falls under the re-equipment and modernization process of the South American nation's fleet.

“This acquisition is important because it’s been a long time since we've updated our aerial equipment,” Argentine Air Force Major General Mario Colaizzo, Texan II project chief, told Diálogo. “These planes will replace the Tucanos, which were purchased more than 30 years ago from [the Brazilian company] EMBRAER.”

The Texan II purchase is “an extremely important first step in Argentina’s journey to modernize their Air Force hardware and in their continued cooperation with the United States,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Eldridge, associate chief of the Office for Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. “While the Argentine Air Force has extremely skilled pilots and a long and distinguished history of aviation achievements, they are faced with equipment limitations that need to be addressed so that they can continue to move successfully toward the future.”

“As evidenced by the fact that the United States chose the T-6 Texan II aircraft as our own primary pilot training aircraft, we believe that this platform is an excellent choice to replace the fleet of Tucanos,” Lt. Col. Eldridge said. The first four airplanes arrived in Argentina and were presented October 2nd, 2017, at a ceremony held at the Military Aviation School (EAM, per its Spanish acronym), in the province of Córdoba.

“This is an enormous step to rehabilitate our Air Force,” Argentine Minister of Defense Oscar Aguad said. “It’s an honor to present these airplanes, which are the result of our nation’s and every Argentinian's efforts to equip our pilots with cutting-edge technology aircraft.”

According to Minister Aguad, “The United States also uses this aircraft model to train pilots of its three military branches, while Mexico uses it to train and counter narcotrafficking.” Countries such as Canada, Great Britain, Israel, and New Zealand also use the single engine plane to prepare their military pilots.

Next generation

“The Texan II is the most advanced airplane of its kind,” emphasized Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. The two-seater, pressurized plane with oxygen generator can be flown with all functions from the pilot or instructor seat. The aircraft features ejection seats, guaranteeing greater pilot safety in dangerous situations, and has a cruise speed of 300 knots, or more than 500 kilometers per hour. “It’s a very good speed for a training plane, which shouldn’t be too fast or too slow to facilitate pilot training,” he said.

One of the novelties the Texan II brings is the HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) system. “This means that the pilot doesn’t have to take his hands off the stick or throttle, because the trim, speedbrake, radio, and firing switches are all there,” explained Maj. Gen. Colaizzo.

Instead of analog instruments, the Texan II has a forward-looking HUP (head-up display). “It’s a semi-transparent multifunction screen located in front of the pilot's eyes, above the instrument panel,” said Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. “You can program it according to what you want to see. For example, the screen can show navigation, speed, and altitude data, in addition to visual reference.”

Advanced training

The Texan II will be key in the training of Argentine Air Force pilots. Each pilot will first fly 40 hours in the “elementary” stage to learn to take off and land. “Upon completion of the elementary stage, students move on to other flight topics: piloting, aerobatics, basic and radio instruments, night flight, day and night radio navigation, formation, and firing, among others,” said Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. The first four Texan IIs are already with the EAM, the unit responsible for training Argentine military pilots.

“The multiple capacities this aircraft provides position our institution at the forefront of operational requirements of the world's armed forces,” said General Enrique Victor Amrein, chief of the Argentine Air Force General Staff, during the EAM Texan II presentation ceremony. “This represents a qualitative leap in the training of Argentine Air Force combat pilots.”

U.S. cooperation

Maj. Gen. Colaizzo stressed the importance of the Texan II purchase for United States–Argentina cooperation. “This acquisition is a sign of the good relationship between the two governments,” he said. “Offers of all kinds were made [by the U.S. government], including re-equipment. Relations between our armed forces have always been good, but this clearly indicates that relations continue to be so,” he added.

Cooperation goes beyond this purchase said Lt. Col. Eldridge. “As an added benefit of operating the same platform, Argentina and the United States have agreed to establish a permanent pilot exchange, with a U.S. Air Force instructor stationed in Córdoba and an Argentine instructor at the U.S. Air Force base in Vance, Oklahoma,” he explained. “This will allow our two nations to learn from one another’s experiences with the aircraft and share best practices, not to mention the cultural benefits.”

According to Maj. Gen. Colaizzo, the next four Texan IIs are in production, and will arrive in Argentina at the end of June 2018. Delivery of the final four aircraft is expected for December 2018.

A modern and transparent purchase

The aircraft purchase fell under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program of the U.S. Department of Defense. “The FMS program is a modern and completely transparent system of procurement for military training, hardware and support (products and services),” said Lt. Col. Eldridge. “This unique process is authorized by the Arms Export Control Act, and is controlled by the U.S. Department of State and executed by the Department of Defense through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA].”

According to Lt. Col. Eldridge, the advantage of FMS over other purchasing methods is that it is exactly the same program the U.S. military uses to acquire their products and services. “When Argentina, or any other country, procures through FMS, they enter into a bilateral contract with the U.S. government, which then enters into a separate contract with whatever commercial entity will be providing the articles and/or services,” he said.

Another advantage: Acquisitions made through FMS are comprehensively planned. “All the costs and considerations of a purchase are understood and budgeted for ahead of time so that it is sure to be properly sustained,” Lt. Col. Eldridge explained. “What often happens with other purchases is that the money and commitment is there for the initial buy, but perhaps infrastructure or sustainment is underestimated or overlooked.”

Neither the DSCA nor the U.S. government gains profits through FMS. “The main goal is ensuring that whatever capability is sought—by Argentina or any other country—is acquired in a manner that ensures long-term program success,” Lt. Col. Eldridge said. “Most importantly, the process is 100 percent corruption free.”

Argentina contracted 12 next generation Beechcraft T-6C+ Texan II aircraft from the United States to train its future Air Force pilots. The purchase falls under the re-equipment and modernization process of the South American nation's fleet.

“This acquisition is important because it’s been a long time since we've updated our aerial equipment,” Argentine Air Force Major General Mario Colaizzo, Texan II project chief, told Diálogo. “These planes will replace the Tucanos, which were purchased more than 30 years ago from [the Brazilian company] EMBRAER.”

The Texan II purchase is “an extremely important first step in Argentina’s journey to modernize their Air Force hardware and in their continued cooperation with the United States,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Eldridge, associate chief of the Office for Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. “While the Argentine Air Force has extremely skilled pilots and a long and distinguished history of aviation achievements, they are faced with equipment limitations that need to be addressed so that they can continue to move successfully toward the future.”

“As evidenced by the fact that the United States chose the T-6 Texan II aircraft as our own primary pilot training aircraft, we believe that this platform is an excellent choice to replace the fleet of Tucanos,” Lt. Col. Eldridge said. The first four airplanes arrived in Argentina and were presented October 2nd, 2017, at a ceremony held at the Military Aviation School (EAM, per its Spanish acronym), in the province of Córdoba.

“This is an enormous step to rehabilitate our Air Force,” Argentine Minister of Defense Oscar Aguad said. “It’s an honor to present these airplanes, which are the result of our nation’s and every Argentinian's efforts to equip our pilots with cutting-edge technology aircraft.”

According to Minister Aguad, “The United States also uses this aircraft model to train pilots of its three military branches, while Mexico uses it to train and counter narcotrafficking.” Countries such as Canada, Great Britain, Israel, and New Zealand also use the single engine plane to prepare their military pilots.

Next generation

“The Texan II is the most advanced airplane of its kind,” emphasized Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. The two-seater, pressurized plane with oxygen generator can be flown with all functions from the pilot or instructor seat. The aircraft features ejection seats, guaranteeing greater pilot safety in dangerous situations, and has a cruise speed of 300 knots, or more than 500 kilometers per hour. “It’s a very good speed for a training plane, which shouldn’t be too fast or too slow to facilitate pilot training,” he said.

One of the novelties the Texan II brings is the HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) system. “This means that the pilot doesn’t have to take his hands off the stick or throttle, because the trim, speedbrake, radio, and firing switches are all there,” explained Maj. Gen. Colaizzo.

Instead of analog instruments, the Texan II has a forward-looking HUP (head-up display). “It’s a semi-transparent multifunction screen located in front of the pilot's eyes, above the instrument panel,” said Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. “You can program it according to what you want to see. For example, the screen can show navigation, speed, and altitude data, in addition to visual reference.”

Advanced training

The Texan II will be key in the training of Argentine Air Force pilots. Each pilot will first fly 40 hours in the “elementary” stage to learn to take off and land. “Upon completion of the elementary stage, students move on to other flight topics: piloting, aerobatics, basic and radio instruments, night flight, day and night radio navigation, formation, and firing, among others,” said Maj. Gen. Colaizzo. The first four Texan IIs are already with the EAM, the unit responsible for training Argentine military pilots.

“The multiple capacities this aircraft provides position our institution at the forefront of operational requirements of the world's armed forces,” said General Enrique Victor Amrein, chief of the Argentine Air Force General Staff, during the EAM Texan II presentation ceremony. “This represents a qualitative leap in the training of Argentine Air Force combat pilots.”

U.S. cooperation

Maj. Gen. Colaizzo stressed the importance of the Texan II purchase for United States–Argentina cooperation. “This acquisition is a sign of the good relationship between the two governments,” he said. “Offers of all kinds were made [by the U.S. government], including re-equipment. Relations between our armed forces have always been good, but this clearly indicates that relations continue to be so,” he added.

Cooperation goes beyond this purchase said Lt. Col. Eldridge. “As an added benefit of operating the same platform, Argentina and the United States have agreed to establish a permanent pilot exchange, with a U.S. Air Force instructor stationed in Córdoba and an Argentine instructor at the U.S. Air Force base in Vance, Oklahoma,” he explained. “This will allow our two nations to learn from one another’s experiences with the aircraft and share best practices, not to mention the cultural benefits.”

According to Maj. Gen. Colaizzo, the next four Texan IIs are in production, and will arrive in Argentina at the end of June 2018. Delivery of the final four aircraft is expected for December 2018.

A modern and transparent purchase

The aircraft purchase fell under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program of the U.S. Department of Defense. “The FMS program is a modern and completely transparent system of procurement for military training, hardware and support (products and services),” said Lt. Col. Eldridge. “This unique process is authorized by the Arms Export Control Act, and is controlled by the U.S. Department of State and executed by the Department of Defense through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA].”

According to Lt. Col. Eldridge, the advantage of FMS over other purchasing methods is that it is exactly the same program the U.S. military uses to acquire their products and services. “When Argentina, or any other country, procures through FMS, they enter into a bilateral contract with the U.S. government, which then enters into a separate contract with whatever commercial entity will be providing the articles and/or services,” he said.

Another advantage: Acquisitions made through FMS are comprehensively planned. “All the costs and considerations of a purchase are understood and budgeted for ahead of time so that it is sure to be properly sustained,” Lt. Col. Eldridge explained. “What often happens with other purchases is that the money and commitment is there for the initial buy, but perhaps infrastructure or sustainment is underestimated or overlooked.”

Neither the DSCA nor the U.S. government gains profits through FMS. “The main goal is ensuring that whatever capability is sought—by Argentina or any other country—is acquired in a manner that ensures long-term program success,” Lt. Col. Eldridge said. “Most importantly, the process is 100 percent corruption free.”
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