|An A-4AR during Air Fest 2010|
|Role||Ground attack fighter|
|Manufacturer||Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA|
|First flight||December 1997|
|Primary user||Argentine Air Force|
|Number built||36 converted|
|Developed from||A-4M Skyhawk|
The Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk is a major upgrade of the McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk attack aircraft developed for the Argentine Air Force which entered service in 1998. The program was named Fightinghawk in recognition of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was the source of its new avionics.
The Falklands War in 1982 took a heavy toll on the Argentine Air Force, which lost over 60 aircraft.
The supply of modern combat aircraft had been restricted since the United States had imposed an arms embargo in 1978 for human rights abuses; there were further restrictions when the United Kingdom also imposed an arms embargo in 1982. The only combat aircraft that the Air Force could obtain were 10 Mirage 5Ps transferred from the Peruvian Air Force, 19 Six-Day War veteran Mirage IIICJs from Israel, and 2 Mirage IIIB trainers from the French Air Force.
In 1989, Carlos Menem was elected President of Argentina and quickly established a pro-United States foreign policy which led to the country gaining Major non-NATO ally status. Although the economic situation improved, the funds to purchase new combat aircraft like the Mirage 2000 remained unavailable.
In 1994, the United States made a counteroffer to modernize 36 former US Marine Corps A-4M Skyhawks in a US$282 million deal that would be carried out by Lockheed Martin and included the privatization of the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (Military Aircraft Factory - FMA), which was renamed Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA (LMAASA) afterward. In 2010, LMAASA reverted to the Argentine government as Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FADEA).
Argentine Air Force technicians chose 32 A-4M (built between 1970/1976) and 4 TA-4F airframes from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona to upgrade. The upgrade plans included:
The A-4Ms were equipped with the TV and laser spot tracker Hughes AN/ASB-19 Angle Rate Bombing System, but this was removed after the conversion into A-4ARs, as the radar could provide the same data.
The contract stipulated that 8 airframes would be refurbished at the Lockheed-Martin Plant in Palmdale, California and the rest (27) in Córdoba, Argentina at LMAASA. At least ten TA-4J and A-4M airframes for use as spare parts, eight additional engines, and a new A-4AR simulator were also delivered.
The Fightinghawks, having received Air Force serials C-901 to C-936, saw their first group arrive in Argentina on 18 December 1997 and the first "Argentine" A-4AR was rolled out on 3 August 1998 at Cordoba. The last one, number 936, was delivered to the Air Force in March 2000. Two aircraft (a one-seat and a two-seat) remained some time in the United States for weapons homologation. All of the A-4ARs were delivered to the 5th Air Brigade (V Brigada Aérea) at Villa Reynolds, San Luis Province, where they replaced two squadrons of Falklands/Malvinas veteran A-4P (locally known as A-4B) and A-4C. They were soon deployed in rotation around the country from Rio Gallegos in the south to Resistencia in the north where they were used to intercept smugglers and drug trafficking airplanes.
In September 1998, just months after their arrival and again in April 2001, United States Air Force F-16s visited Villa Reynolds for the Southern Falcon joint exercise, known as Aguila (Spanish for Eagle) in Argentina. In 2004, the A-4ARs went abroad for the joint exercise Cruzex, along with Brazilian F-5s and Mirages, Venezuelan F-16s and French Mirage 2000s.
In November 2005 they were deployed to Tandil airbase to enforce a no-fly zone for the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas and later met Chilean Mirage Elkans, Brazilian AMXs and Uruguayan A-37 at Mendoza for the joint exercise Ceibo.
In July 2006 they were deployed to Cordoba province for the Mercosur's 30th Presidents Summit, while in August and September they went north again to Brazil for the Cruzex III joint exercise with Brazil, Chile, France, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
In June 2008 they were deployed to Tucumán province for the Mercosur's Presidents Summit.
In August 2009 they were deployed to Bariloche for the UNASUR Presidents summit. Later that month they participated at Reconquista, Santa Fe of the Pre-Salitre official video an exercise of preparation for the Salitre II oficial video of next October in Chile with Chile, Brazil, France and the United States.
On 1 May 2010 they participated in the Air Fest 2010 show at Morón Airport and Air Base.video On 25 May 2010 three A-4AR flew over the 9 de Julio Avenue at Buenos Aires as part of the Argentina Bicentennial shows.
In August 2010, the aircraft enforced a no-fly zone at San Juan for the Mercosur's Presidents Summit. On September they joined the rest of the air force aircraft at Reconquista, Santa Fe for the ICARO III integration manoeuvers. On November they deployed to Tandil airbase for the XX Ibero-American Summit held at Mar del Plata.
In January 2016, Argentine Minister of Defence Julio Martinez confirmed that all Air Force Lockheed Martin A-4AR Skyhawk (Fightinghawk) fighters were grounded. Originally this was due to the expiry of the explosive cartridges in their ejection seats, but later it became apparent that there were additional problems. Only 4-5 were found airworthy with the rest in storage at Villa Reynolds.
In May 2017, they participated in the celebrations of the 2017 anniversary of the May Revolution.
By 2020, as few as six of the aircraft were still reported as operational.
As of August 2020[update] four of the type have been lost in 20 years of service:
Data from FAA Official site and A-4 Skyhawk