The Brazilian Navy is studying the technical and financial feasibility of replacing its A-4KU and TA-4KU SKYHAWK aircraft, currently operated by the service’s combat aviation arm.

This information was disclosed by the current Commander of the Brazilian Navy (since January last year), Adm Ilques Barbosa Jr, who stated that the Navy would be willing to cancel the A-4KU modernisation program and instead channel the funds to re-equip the naval aviation arm. It should be noted that in 2009 Embraer and the Brazilian Navy signed a contract for $106 million (€96.8 million) to modernize nine AF-1 and three AF-1A aircraft but that, by 2019, only five aircraft had been modernised, one of which was lost in an accident.

The idea is to acquire a batch of approximately twelve aircraft and it seems that the most economical and viable selection would be the F/A-18 E/F SUPER HORNET, due for mothballing by the United States in the coming years. The US proposal could be made available to Brazil through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. There are concerns, however, over the condition of the airframes, due to their operational tempo on US aircraft carriers and the high unit cost of the F/A-18E/F. A more viable possibility, therefore, appears to be the potential acquisition of F/A-18C/D HORNETs from the Kuwaiti Air Force. The planes operated by Kuwait, according to some members of Brazil’s No. 1 Interception and Attack Squadron (VF-1), are likely to be in better condition than those operated by the US Navy, since they have not undergone the physical stresses of carrier operations. It should be noted that the HORNETs operated by the Kuwait Air Force were the last assembled by the manufacturer, have fewer flight hours and have a much longer remaining life compared to their US analogues.

Santiago Rivas and Florencia Lucero Heguy in Buenos Aires for MON

Brazilian Navy SKYHAWKs could shortly be replaced by HORNETs or SUPER HORNETs. (Photo via the authors)

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