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FMA IA-63 Pampa (Prairie)

Argentina (1988)
Picture of FMA IA-63 Pampa (Prairie) Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft

The Argentine FMA IA-63 Pampa advanced trainer was made possible with technical assistance from the German concern of Dornier.


Detailing the development and operational history of the FMA IA-63 Pampa (Prairie) Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Comparatively smaller air powers of the world - such as that of Argentina - rely on more cost-effective measures to stock their aircraft inventories. In 1988, the Argentine Air Force adopted the FMA IA-63 "Pampa" (translated as "Prairie") as its standard advanced jet trainer with an inherent light strike capability as secondary. Twenty-seven of the type were procured from 1984 onwards with manufacture handled by Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA). The IA-63 continues in active service as of this writing (2014).

Because of the limited capabilities of the Argentine aviation industry, the country teamed with aero manufacturer Dornier of Germany to develop its Pampa aircraft. Up to this point in its history, the Argentine Air Force utilized the French-originated Morane-Saulnier MS-760 "Paris" as its primary trainer. The French company produced just 165 of these in all and these served from 1959 until 1997 at which time they were retired by the French in 1997. The Argentines carried them forward a little longer, retiring their stock as recently as 2007.

Design work on what would become the "Pampa" began in 1978 and a single-engine, high-wing monoplane platform was selected for general simplicity in maintenance and repair. Rather than bring about a completely new aircraft from the ground up, the Dornier "Alpha Jet" was selected as the basis for the Argentine Air Force requirement and this led to the FMA / Dornier partnership taking hold.

The end result was a dimensionally smaller aircraft that mimicked the design lines of the original Alpha Jet. Other key differences were the single engine layout as opposed to the Alpha Jet's dual-engine configuration and the Pampa's straight monoplane wings (the Alpha Jet held swept-back wing mainplanes). A wheeled tricycle undercarriage was wholly retractable, intakes were mounted along the fuselage sides, and the crew of two sat under a single-piece, side-hinged canopy offering good vision out-of-the-cockpit. The wing mainplanes were high mounted along the fuselage sides with two hardpoints featured to each wing element. Their high positioning provided excellent ground clearance for the management of stores (bombs, rocket pods, gun pods). The empennage showcased a sole vertical tail fin with the engine jettisoning from the base of the tail unit.

Dimensions included a length of 35.10 feet, a height of 14 feet, and a wingspan of 31.9 feet. Empty weight was 6,220lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 11,025lb.

Suitable performance was made possible by a single Garrett TFE731-2-N turbofan engine outputting 3,500lbf. Maximum speed remained subsonic at 510 miles per hour with cruising speeds in the 465mph range. Operational range was out to 932 miles with a service ceiling listed at 42,325 feet. Rate-of-climb reached approximately 6,000 feet-per-minute.

As the IA-63 was envisioned with a secondary light strike combat role, a 30mm DEFA-GIAT 554 series cannon was supported by its design. Five total hardpoints (four underwing) allowed for up to 1,430lb of external stores to be carried. The fuselage centerline position was restricted to 550lb of that total as were the two outboard underwing positions.
Initial service models were the IA-63 and aircraft were realized as soon as 1984 but the Argentine economical situation at the time meant that viable strength was not reached until 1988. Two production batches were signed with the first delivering eighteen airframes and the second and additional six airframes. These aircraft were later upgraded to the AT-63 Pampa standard by Lockheed Martin and featured a more advanced/modern avionics kit, broader weapons support for existing Argentine Air Force munitions, and a new engine fitting. Lockheed had absorbed FMA of Argentina by this time.

The Vought "Pampa 2000" was a short-lived upgrade endeavor of the 1990s lead by LTV (Vought) with the project goal to provide the United States Air Force (USAF) / United States Navy (USN) with a new "joint service" universal trainer. The services instead selected the Beechcraft T-6 "Texan II" as the winner of the competition in 1995.

The Argentine Air Force remains the sole operator of the IA-63 Pampa.

FMA is now known as Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA).

The Pampa has been put through a modernization program that includes new-generation avionics (Elbit glass cockpit, helmet-mounted sighting system). Known as "Pampa III", forty systems are earmarked for the Argentine Air Force with 20 set to be configured for the light attack role. First-flight of an aircraft fitting this standard was on March 29th, 2016. The Pampa III was offered to India to replace its outgoing Kiran jet trainer line.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (510mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
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LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the FMA IA-63 Pampa (Prairie)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
27
27


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: Argentina
Year: 1988
Type: Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA); Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) - Argentina / Lockheed Martin - USA
Production: 27
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
Argentina
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the FMA IA-63 Pampa (Prairie) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
35.86 ft


Meters
10.93 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
31.79 ft


Meters
9.69 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.07 ft


Meters
4.29 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
6,217 lb


Kilograms
2,820 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
11,023 lb


Kilograms
5,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Garrett TFE 731-2-2N turbofan engine developing 3,500lb of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
510 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
820 kph


Knots
443 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
932 mi


Kilometers
1,500 km


Nautical Miles
810 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
42,323 ft


Meters
12,900 m


Miles
8.02 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
5,950 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
1,814 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (5):

TYPICAL:
1 x 30mm DEFA-Giat 554 cannon

OPTIONAL:
Gunpods, rocket pods, and conventional drop bombs; up to 1,430lbs of external stores allowed across five total hardpoints (four underwing).
Variants: Series Model Variants
• IA-63 "Pampa" - Base Series Designation; 24 examples delivered beginning in 1988.
• "Pampa 2000" - Proposed Joint Primary Aircraft Training System for USAF competition; modification by LTV/Vought.
• AT-63 "Pampa" - Modernized IA-63 by Lockheed Martin who acquired FMA; advanced/modernized avionics, new engine, improved weapons support.
• "Pampa III" - Modernized model with all-glass cockpit by Elbit of Israel; helmet sighting system; 40 expected for AAF with 20 of these to be made to a light attack standard.