The Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA, Argentine Air Force) marked a major milestone on August 5, when it accepted its first modernised Embraer EMB-312 Tucano during a ceremony at the Aeroparque Military Air Station in Buenos Aires.
The ceremony was presided over by Argentina’s Minister of Defence, Jorge Taiana, who was accompanied by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, Lt Gen Juan Martín Paleo, and the commander of the FAA, Brig Gen Xavier Julián Isaac, along with other prominent members from the Argentine defence community. This aircraft (serial A-122) is the first of four to undergo an avionics upgrade with Argentina-based aerospace firm, Redimec. A follow-up contract for modification work on a further eight Tucanos has yet to be signed.
As part of this modernisation contract, the four Tucanos are being modified with adapted internal and external lighting systems to enable flights to be carried out with night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible systems. The aircraft will also receive new digital instrument panels, including a new multifunction display (MFD) with synthetic vision, as well as new communications equipment and navigation systems. Work under this contract is being conducted by Redimec at the Área de Material Río Cuarto, the FAA’s principal maintenance centre.
Commenting on the Tucano at the ceremony, Brig Gen Isaac said: “I am very satisfied with the work that has been done together with Redimec. This modernisation gives a qualitative leap to the plane and, fundamentally, to our pilots so that they can fly safer in a more modern environment and, of course, motivation is essential.”
During the ceremony on August 5, the first of these four modernised Tucanos arrived alongside the third TC-12B Hurón twin-turboprop conversion trainer to be delivered to the FAA from US Navy surplus stocks. Argentina has ordered nine second-hand examples of the TC-12B under the US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme. Upon arrival, the two aircraft each received a traditional water cannon salute.
Argentina has operated the EMB-312 Tucano since June 1987, with 30 aircraft being delivered in total. In September 2009, it was reported that the majority of the FAA’s Tucano fleet was not airworthy, with many airframes being placed into long-term storage due to staffing issues. Between nine and 14 examples are believed to remain in operational FAA service today.