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Argentina re-roles Pucara from light strike to surveillance

08 October 2019
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The ‘new’ Pucara Fenix configuration with its improved engine, four-bladed propellers, and EO/IR sensor turret can been seen in the foreground, while the now-retired light strike version is in the background. Source: Santiago Rivas

Argentina has retired its Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) IA-58 Pucara from the counterinsurgency light strike role, employing it instead solely as a border surveillance and patrol aircraft.

The change in role was formalised during a ceremony held by the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina: FAA) on 4 October, with the final public appearance of the aircraft in its light attack guise taking place at an airshow two days later. In its new surveillance role, the aircraft will now be known as Pucara Fenix.

According to the FAA, the Pucara Fenix will be fitted with the improved Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A-62 engines and new four-bladed propellers of the IA-58H upgrade (previously, the Pucara was powered by Turbomeca Astazou XVIG units with three-bladed propellers), as well as a podded Fixview electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, and datalink.

With one aircraft already converted to this standard, the air force hopes that FAdeA will convert another two so as to field the aircraft in its new role for at least a further 10 years.

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