While Argentina’s A-4AR Fightinghawks are amongst the last examples of the Skyhawk in active military service, they continue to support front line roles and played an important part in air policing for the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018, writes Santiago Rivas.
Once the mainstay of US Navy and Marine light attack, the diminutive Douglas A-4 Skyhawk only remains in operational military service with the Latin American air arms of Argentina and Brazil. Almost 65 years after the type’s maiden flight, the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina, FAA), is in the twilight of a long relationship with the ‘Scooter’, with its first 12 A-4Bs — from a batch of 50 — arriving in South America on October 30, 1966. It marked the start of what is now a 53-year career in Argentina for the Skyhawk.
The original A-4Bs, and 25 A-4Cs that joined them in 1975, were all retired on March 15, 1999, having been superseded two years earlier by 32 A-4AR and four OA-4AR Fightinghawks. These were the most advanced Skyhawks of their time, heavily upgraded former US Marine Corps A-4M and OA-4Ms that had been supplied from surplus stocks. Today, since Argentina’s Mirages were withdrawn in November 2015, they form the backbone of Argentina’s neglected combat air fleet, serving with Grupo Aéreo 5 de Caza at Villa Reynolds.
To read the full feature, be sure to pick up Combat Aircraft’s February issue, on sale now in print and ditigal formats.