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Here is how close New Zealand came to deploying a Squadron of its A-4K Skyhaws to the Gulf War in the 90's, remember they had just been through an upgrade program equipping them with the APG-66 radar, glass cockpit with HUD, MIL-STD 1553B databus, laser INS and ALR-66 RWR. They were cleared to use the AIM-9L, AGM-65B/G, GBU-16C/B, Mk-81/82/83/84 low and high drag bombs. The following is a post by an A-4K avionics tech in the RNZAF 1984-2001 and author of the book SKYHAWKS: The History of the RNZAF Skyhawk. https://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Skyhawks.html?id=N7NCngEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

"It was also an interesting time at Ohakea. 75 Sqn was in training to go to war, 2 Sqn were about to be deployed to Nowra and there was talk that the Nowra deployment would go on hold as all our A-4s and personnel would be needed to support 75 Sqn. The paint shop were all geared up to repaint the aircraft in desert camo, the deployment route to the Gulf had been worked out and everyone was being lined up at Medical for their jabs. The 75 Squadron Gulf War happy hour was very memorable - Sadam Husain even put in an appearance! 

Sadly nothing happened and 75 Sqn went to Williamtown as planned for a WILLOH Exercise at the end of January and 2 Sqn deployed to Nowra as planned at the beginning of February. Oh what might have been eh, had our politicians had some balls! Had we deployed the A-4s they would have been one of the most sophisticated ground attack aircraft in theatre with their then brand new Kahu avionics. We would most likey have been based alongside the Kuwaiti A-4s as they had had to leave all of their ground equipment, ground crew and spares in Kuwait when they evacuated to Saudi. 

A great opportunity was lost to demonstrate the value in having an Air Combat Force, something we would pay dearly for 10 years later under HC and Co."

and:

Question: "Was that a genuine plan to operate with the Kuwaiti Air Force? Would the A-K's not have come under RAF command as part of Operation Granby, and operated alongside the Tornadoes and Buccaneers?"

Answer: "The US were looking for a fast and easy way to get the Kuwaiti A-4s back in the fight. All they had were their 20 odd aircraft, the pilots who flew them and the clothes they were wearing! They had to leave everything else behind when they left Kuwait. Deploying us along side of them would have solved their logistics and ground crew problem (and the Saudi's/Kuwaiti's would have paid NZ handsomely!). But instead they employed civilian contractors (mercenaries), all former USN/USMC guys. The USMC were still actively flying A-4Ms at that time and had just started disbanding squadrons, so sending over all of the weapons, spares and support equipment they needed wasn't really a problem (they just raided the boneyard).

We probably would have come under the RAF command Dave but would have been used in a close air support role (what the A-4 was best at) rather than the longer range tactical strike the Tornados were doing. If we had gone I'm picking we would have fired a LOT of Mavericks...

All pie in the sky stuff now but at the time these were the things various people in the RNZAF were seriously thinking about.

Had we deployed the A-4s there were a few "fast track" mods we would have had to do to the aircraft (the first four we subsequently did to the aircraft anyway):

1. Fit and test the KY-58 secure radio kit to all aircraft - Kahu had installed the wiring etc. but it was not yet tested in 1991 (secret squirrel stuff).

2. Fit and test the Mode 4 IFF kit (same deal as above).

3. Programme the radar warning system with the threat and friendly radars

4. Update the weapon inventory software for any additional weapons were would be carrying

5. Uprate the engines (basically run the engine hotter to produce more thrust at full power - can be done but reduces engine life)

6. Repaint the aircraft "

And so I give you No.75 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Airforce, A-4K Skyhawk, Joint New Zealand/ Kuwait Skyhawk Wing, Operation Desert Storm 1992, King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Dhahran.

Expanding on the "fast track' mods Dom mentions above the CBU-87/B has been added to the Kiwi Skyhawk's inventory to enable medium altitude area attacks (as done for the RAF Jaguar's). ALQ-119(V)17 ECM pods are borrowed from the USAF and always carried operationally like most allied aircraft. Finally a handful of AN/ASQ-153 Pave Spike pods are also borrowed from the USAF enabling precision daylight strikes to be carried out without a 'buddy' aircraft to designate the target. The MIL-STD 1553B databus intalled during the project 'Kahu' upgrade is key to enabling the quick addition of additional ordnance and EW pods. Once the air threat had subsided the Kiwi Skyhaws stopped carrying a single AIM-9L and replaced it on most missions with an AGM-65B that the pilots used more as a substitute targeting pod to enable magnified target identification before attacking with bombs etc

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Edited by dtmdragon
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A very nice scenario, dtmd!
I never cared for the "desert pink"-sheme, but it doesn't look too bad on the Skyhawk at all.


FWIW: The book is highly recommeded - it also features a rather interesting cockpit-picture of a TA-4K going straight down and supersonic...

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