Martin-Baker ejection seats on display at the Paris Air Show. (Colin Kelly)
PARIS — Argentinean jet trainer manufacturer FAdeA has been banned from installing a British-made ejection seat in a new version of the Pampa by the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, according to company boss Raul Arganaraz.
The FAdeA president told reporters during a briefing at the Paris Air show Monday that the ban on the Martin-Baker ejection seat had been imposed by the government to “guarantee autonomy” of the new IA-63 Pampa III trainer/light attack aircraft.
Instead, the Argentine aircraft maker will turn to a Russian ejection-seat to supply the Pampa IIIs for the Argentine Air Force.
Argentina fought a war with the British in the early 1980s over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and recently the two nations have been at diplomatic loggerheads over the issue with the Argentine president again raising the temperature over ownership of the South Atlantic islands.
Arganaraz said the Martin-Baker equipment could be fitted if export customers specified it, but the world-leading, British-designed system would not be used in any of the trainer or light tactical aircraft scheduled for delivery to the local armed forces starting mid-2014.
A Martin-Baker Mk10 seat had been used in an earlier version of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the FAdeA president said the Pampa III would make its first flight in December.
Eighteen of the Pampa IIIs will be for trainer duties with the remainder of the order being for the Pampa III GT light attack machine.
Target production, including exports, is 100 aircraft and the company is also looking at a single-seat design, Arganaraz said.
Arganaraz said the extent of the changes to the Pampa III over earlier versions means the aircraft is practically new. Included in the new equipment is an Elta Systems-supplied glass cockpit.
Other suppliers involved in the new aircraft include Israel Aerospace Industries, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Liebherr and Sagem.
The Pampa III development is part of a comeback plan by FAdeA to re-enter aircraft design and production after a 14-year gap brought about in part by Argentina’s chronic economic woes.
The company survived mainly as a maintenance center for the C-130 Hercules and other aircraft.
Aside from the new Pampa, FAdeA is building a prototype of the Chinese CZ-11 helicopter, known locally as the Pampero, and expects to start a 200-hour flight test program soon.
FAdeA is also involved in a 12-nation effort to develop a new primary/basic trainer. Arganaraz said the partners, which include Brazil and Chile, are 90 percent through discussions to agree on a way ahead for developing the Unasur 1. ■
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