Argentina’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) is giving its Pampa jet trainer a new lease on life in a bid to export it internationally.
The first IA-63 Pampa III will be rolled out in October and fly in December and is due to join the ranks of the Argentine air force in 2014. The new aircraft follows on from the 2008 Pampa II, which was re-engined with Honeywell’s TFE731-40 turbofan. The Pampa III features a new glass cockpit developed by Elbit; three large displays allow the aircraft to simulate the radar and data-link systems of modern combat aircraft. The avionics are linked to a lightweight helmet and integrated sighting system.
In a briefing at the Paris Air Show on June 17, FAdeA president Raúl Argañaraz said that the program was giving new life to the company’s factory in Cordoba.
“We had stopped work for 14 years,” says Argañaraz, “Now, we are resuscitating the plant that was the pride of our country for many years.”
The first batch of 18 Pampa IIIs will be used as training aircraft; in 2014–17, work will begin on the production of a new light attack version of the aircraft involving the building of 22 aircraft.
Argañaraz told journalists that he believed there was potential for international sales of up to 100 aircraft in the coming years. The company is already working in conjunction with German general aviation manufacturer Grob to provide both the Pampa and the Grob G 120TP turboprop trainer with an integrated training system for small air arms. The scheme was launched at the FIDAE aerospace and defense show in Santiago, Chile, last year.
Other companies involved in the program include UTC Aerospace Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Liebherr, Rockwell Collins and Safran.
The company is also the lead on a new joint South American turboprop trainer program called Unasur I. The aircraft is named after the Union of South American Nations, within which the aircraft will be developed and produced. Argañaraz says that while the joint approach is not like “Airbus or Eurofighter,” he is hopeful it will lead to further aerospace developments in the future. The aircraft, which is based on FAdeA’s planned IA-73 turboprop trainer, apparently meets 90% of the joint requirements set out by the 12-nation consortium. The aircraft will be used for basic and primary training and will be built and certified in Argentina because, according to FAdeA officials, the country has some of the strictest military certification rules in Latin America. A prototype is due to fly in 2014.