Higher-Capacity Aircraft Dictated by COVID-19 Experience
Progressing its plans to boost capability, the Argentine Air Force is awaiting approval of the acquisition of ten USN-surplus Beech T-12B HURONs. The intent is that 2-3 aircraft will be transferred before year-end to the Transport School at Paraná, releasing the TWIN OTTERs exclusively to operations for the Air Force-run airline, LADE.
MON understands that additional aircraft will be sent to other operational units and to the Military Aviation School for liaison duties, and Air Force Chief of Staff, Brig Xavier Isaac, has stated that a study is underway looking at the feasibility of converting one into an AEW&C platform, using a synthetic aperture radar developed by Argentine company INVAP.
Meanwhile, the selection process has begun for procurement of a Boeing 737. According to Isaac, the aircraft will be of the -300, -400 or -700 series and will be delivered before the end of the year. Intended to begin replacing the Fokker F28 with an aircraft of greater capacity, the Air Force is seeking at least 3-4 aircraft in the near future. Experience at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, when the Air Force flew several missions to Brazil, Ecuador and Peru to evacuate Argentine citizens, is understood to have accelerated the acquisition process. Although the Air Force intends the aircraft should also have a cargo role, it is open to the idea of cargo doors being added at a later date.
Santiago Rivas and Florencia Lucero Heguy in Buenos Aires for MON