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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Carrierborne attack aircraft

A4 Skyhawk

Improved variants of the A-4 Skayhawk are still used by Argentina and Brazil



Entered service 1956
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 12.22 m
Wing span 8.38 m
Height 4.57 m
Weight (empty) 4.7 t
Weight (maximum take off) 11 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 36 / 50 kN
Maximum speed ~ 1 080 km/h
Service ceiling 12.88 km
Ferry range 3 220 km
Combat radius 1 158 km
Armament
Cannon 2 20 mm cannons
Missiles AIM-9, AGM-12, AGM-45, AGM-62, AGM-65
Bombs Rockeye-II Mark 20 CBU, Rockeye Mark 7/APAM-59 CBU, mark 80 series bombs, B43, B57, B62 nuclear bombs

 

   For nearly half a century, the A-4 Skyhawk was one of the most important ground attack aircraft of the US Navy and Marine Corps. The US Marine Coprs stopped using this type of aircraft in 1998, while the US Navy in 2003. However, it still remains a part of Brazilian and Argentinean Air Force.

   The Skyhawk made its maiden flight in 1954 and two years later, in 1956, it was adopted by the US military. Since then, there were about 2 960 aircraft built, mainly by the Douglas Aircraft Company, but later also by their daughter-company McDonnell Douglas, before it merged with Boeing.

   In its half-a-century-long history, the Skyhawk saw a lot of action. In the early stages of the Vietnam War, the US Navy used them as primary light attack aircraft. Israel, who is was the biggest buyer of this aircraft, employed them in combat during the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, mostly as ground attack aircraft. Skyhawks were also used in the Falklands War by the Argentinean Army and were a part of Kuwaiti Air Force during the Operation Desert Storm.

   Apart from the United States the A-4 Skyhawk was a used by air arms of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

   The reason why this lightweight aircraft was widely used by many countries, is that it could carry a wide variety of rockets and bomb, including the nuclear bomb. It the early years of Skyhawk production, this attack aircraft was much more advanced than many of its direct competitors. However today the A-4 Skyhawk is outdated. It i is not at the same level with modern light attack aircraft. Because of that, a vast majority of surviving units are used as training aircraft. Israeli Air Force used it for training since 2008, when they withdrew it from frontline duty, until 2015. Singapore still uses the Skyhawks as advanced trainer aircraft, same as Argentina, a country that also uses them as fighter jets.

   The variant used by Argentinean Air Force is a Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk. It is an upgraded version of A-4 Skyhawk. This upgrade has been applied to ex-USMC Skyhawks that were acquired by Argentina in 1997. Under a Lockheed Martin-developed programme, 32 single-seat A-4Ms and 4 two-seat OA-4Ms were rebuilt to A-4AR and OA-4AR Fightinghawk standard. Modernization included a complete overhaul of the airframe, new radar, advanced cockpit displays, HUD, HOTAS controls and other equipment. Its ARG-1 radar is a downgraded version of the F-16 APG-66 radar and allows the use of smart armament. This version features a more powerful engine (50 kN compared to 41 kN), better radar, jammers, etc. Out of the total of 36 Argentinean Lockheed Martin Fightinghawks, 3 were lost to accidents.

   Possibly the last customer of the A-4 Skyhawk was Brazil. In 1998 Brazilian Navy acquired 20 ex-Kuwaiti A-4KUs, in order to put them on board of their Sao Paulo aircraft carrier (ex-French Navy Foch, acquired in 2000). In 2015, these Brazilian attack aircraft were repaired and upgraded.

 

 
A4 Skyhawk

A4 Skyhawk

A4 Skyhawk

A4 Skyhawk

A4 Skyhawk

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