Definitions

IA 58 Pucará

FMA IA 58 Pucará

The FMA IA 58 Pucará (Fortress) is an Argentine ground-attack, counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. A low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with a retractable landing gear, it was manufactured by the Fabrica Militar de Aviones.

Development

Development began in August 1966, with the construction of an unpowered test vehicle. The first prototype, called AX-2 Delfin, first flew on 20 August 1969, powered by 674-kW (904-shp) Garrett TPE331I/U-303 turboprops. The IA-58 was designed to be able to operate from small front-line airfields. It has a tandem cockpit arrangement; the crew of two is seated under the upward opening clamshell canopy on Martin-Baker Mk 6AP6A zero/zero ejection seats. Dual controls are provided for the crew. In the following prototypes, and the production models that followed, the engines were switched to Turbomeca Astazou XVIG turboprops. The first production model first flew on 8 November 1974, and deliveries began in early 1976.

Operational history

The first units were delivered in 1975 to the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina, FAA), 3rd Air Brigade (III Brigada Aérea) in northern Reconquista, Santa Fe province with almost 100 airframes delivered by 1982. The unit was deployed south during the Falklands War (Guerra de las Malvinas), performing coastal surveillance from the Patagonia airfields. As the only aircraft available in substantial numbers for deployment on the islands (the paved runway at Port Stanley Airport was not long enough for FAA Skyhawks and Mirages to be deployed), many Pucarás were destroyed on the ground by British forces before taking part in actual combat.

The aircraft which did see combat were usually armed with unguided bombs, 2.75-in (70-mm) rocket pods, or 7.62mm machine gun pods. Apart from Port Stanley airport, Pucarás were also operated from two small grass improvised airfields at Goose Green and Pebble Island. They were used in the reconnaissance & light-attack role and shot down a Royal Marines Scout helicopter on May 28, the only confirmed Argentine air-to-air victory of the war. After the war, one was taken back to the United Kingdom, and is currently in Duxford. A second example (serial number A-515) was taken to Boscombe Down, returned to flying condition and assessed by the RAF. It is now on display at the RAF Museum Cosford. A total of six Pucarás were destroyed in a single instance, along with another five aircraft damaged, when the SAS carried out the Raid on Pebble Island.

From 1993 to 1999 Pucarás have been used in Sri Lanka counter-insurgency operations.

In the 1990s FAA Pucarás, received several minor upgrades, known as IA-58D, and as of 2007 they remain in service within the 3rd Air Brigade and with the Uruguayan Air Force.

In 2007, an IA-58 of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina was converted to carry a modified engine operating on soy-derived bio-jet fuel. The project, financed and directed by the Argentine Government (Secretaría de Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación Productiva de la Nación), made Argentina the second nation in the world to propel an aircraft with biojet fuel. The project intends to make the FAA less reliant on costly fossil fuels.

Variants

  • AX-2 Delfin : Prototype.
  • IA-58A : Two-seat counter-insurgency, close-support, attack aircraft. Main production version.
  • IA-58B Pucara Bravo : One prototype aircraft, with advanced aviaonics and armed with two 30-mm DEFA cannons.
  • IA-58C Pucara Charlie : One single-seat prototype aircraft.
  • IA-66 : One prototype aircraft, powered by two 1,000-ehp (746-kW) Garrett TPE331-11-601W turboprop engines.

Military operators

Current Operators

Former Operators

Specifications

See also

References

External links

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