IA-58 Pucara Counter-Insurgency Aircraft, Argentina
IA-58 Pucara is a two-seater advance ground attack and counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft designed and manufactured by Argentina-based Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA, now known as Lockheed Martin Argentina) for the Argentina Air Force (AAF). About 150 to 160 IA-58s were built between 1978 and 1986.
Pratt & Whitney Canada was contracted by the AAF in November 2011 to supply PT6A-62 engines for the upgrade of Pucara aircraft. The AAF currently operates 30 Pucara aircraft.
IA-58 Pucara variants
The IA-58 Pucara has seven variants, namely the AX-02 Delfin, AX-04, IA-58A Pucara, IA-58B Pucara Bravo, IA-58C Pucara Charlie, IA-58D Pucara Delta and IA-66.
The AX-02 Delfin is the initial prototype. The AX-04 is the second prototype built jointly by the AAF and the Argentine Navy in May 1982. It is fitted with Mark 13 torpedoes to increase the anti-ship capabilities of the AAF.
The IA-58A Pucara is the first production version. It is a two-seater aircraft fitted with a 20mm cannon. It can carry out COIN and close air support (CAS) missions.
The IA-58B Pucara Bravo is a single-seater aircraft fitted with two 30mm DEFA cannons and upgraded avionics. It completed its maiden flight in May 1979, but was never produced.
The IA-58C Pucara Charlie is a single-seater prototype built by upgrading the IA-58B. The upgrades include incorporating head up display, identification friend or foe and 30mm DEFA 553 cannons in the nose. It features two additional hardpoints to carry Magic 2 air-to-air missiles and Martin Pescador anti-ship missiles.
The IA-58D Pucara Delta is a meliorated version of IA-58A.
The IA-66 is built by superseding the IA-58A's engine with a 1,000hp Garrett TPE331-11-601W turboprop engine.
Customer orders of the IA-58 Pucara included 108 aircraft by the AAF and six aircraft by the Uruguayan Air Force.
Development of the IA-58 Pucara ground attack aircraft
The development of the IA-58 Pucara started in August 1966 with the requirement of the AAF for COIN and ground attack aircraft.
The AX-02 Delfin prototype completed its maiden flight in August 1969. It was powered by 674kW (904hp) Garrett TPE331I/U-303 turboprop engines. The subsequent prototypes and production versions were fitted with Turbomeca Astazou XVIG turboprop engines.
The first production version completed its maiden flight in November 1974 and entered service with the AAF in 1975.
Colombia received three IA-58s in December 1989 on lease to attack drug manufacturers and smugglers in the country.
Sri Lanka deployed the aircraft in COIN mission between 1993 and 1999. The engines of the IA-58s were superseded with an engine operating on soy derived bio jet fuel in 2007.
Design of the IA-58 Pucara
The IA-58 has a low wing monoplane design with all metal construction. The aircraft was designed to operate both day and night on rough airfields or unprepared airstrips or dirt runways. It can execute COIN, CAS, intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The aircraft is fitted with a semi-monocoque fuselage, T-tail and sloping nose. It can carry maximum internal fuel of 1,280l.
Cockpit, armaments and landing gear
The IA-58 boasts a pressurised cockpit enclosed by a single piece clamshell canopy that opens upwards. It can accommodate two flight crew members in tandem seat configuration with dual flight controls.
The cockpit is fitted with two Martin-Baker Mk 6AP6A zero/zero ejection seats which can be activated by pulling the faceblind located over the pilot's head. The rear seat is slightly raised by 0.25m to provide clear forward visibility.
The IA-58 is armed with two 20mm Hispano MS 804 cannons and four 7.62mm FN M2-30 machine guns. The aircraft comprises three hardpoints, two underwing and one under the centreline fuselage. It can carry up to 1,500 kg of payload.
Other armaments attached include 7.62mm and 12.7mm gun pods, two conventional unguided drop bombs, two 70mm rocket pods, one mine dispenser and one anti-ship torpedo.
The IA-58 is fitted with a tricycle type retractable landing gear comprising dual main wheels and a single steerable nose wheel.
The main wheels retract into the engine nacelles, while the nose wheel resiles into centreline fuselage section upon take-off from runway.
Engines and performance
The IA-58 is powered by two Turbomeca Astazou XVIG turboprop engines rated at 729kW of output power each.
The IA-58 Pucara can climb at the rate of 18m/s. The maximum and cruise speeds of the aircraft are 500km/h and 480km/h respectively.
The economical cruise speed is 430km/h. The stall speed is 143km/h. The range and service ceiling of the aircraft are 3,710km and 10,000m respectively.
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