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FMA 'Halcón' - Grupo 6 de Caza, Fuerza Aerea Argentina, 2012

The cancellation of the Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) SAIA 90 after the company failed to attract a development partner was a heavy blow to Argentinian national pride. But the requirement for a future multi-role combat aircraft to supplement and eventually replace the Fuerza Aérea Argentina's Skyhawks and Mirages still remained and by early 1984 Fuerza Aérea Argentina officials began to issue specifications for SAIA-96 a multi-role fighter with a planned in-service date of 1996. Almost immediately, the project gained the support and approval of the recently elected President Raúl Alfonsín - although Alfonsín instructed the SAIA-96 joint committee (consisting of Fuerza Aérea Argentina officials and representatives of FMA) to consider a smaller design than the previous SAIA-90 and accept a slightly later in-service date. President Alfonsín then contracted General Dynamics to assist FMA on a consultancy basis to assist with design and the joint FMA/GD project team studied several design layouts during 1985 and by early 1986 these had crystallized into the SAIA-2000 Halcón - a small, single-seat fighter with F-16 style blended wing roots and a single fin but powered by two engines instead of the anticipated single engine.

As the 1980's progressed the Argentinian economy declined sharply due to severe inflation and the threat of cancellation was never far away. However, President Alfonsín and then President Carlos Menem continued to allow funding and the project continued into the 1990's with sensible economies and compromises meaning that the project cost was never allowed to gallop away. Representative of the economies was the selection of the Honeywell F125-GA-100 low-bypass turbofan engine derived from the civilian Honeywell TFE731 and developing 6,100lbs dry thrust and 9,500lbs with afterburning. In a similar fashion, off-the-peg avionics were chosen including the General Electric AN/APG-67 multi-mode pulse-doppler radar initially developed for the Northrop F-20 Tigershark and the Honeywell H423 inertial navigation system.

The first of three Halcón prototypes flew on September 30th, 1994 and the first two-seater followed it into the air on December 24th, 1994 and good progress was made by both prototypes before they were joined by the third prototype during the summer of 1995. At this time, the SAIA-2000 Halcón project was deemed so essential for national security that it was deliberately excluded from the privatization of FMA in 1995 resulting in the formation of FMA-DAC (Fábrica Militar de Aviones - División de aviones de combate) at Córdoba so as to continue development and production of the Halcón project but with Lockheed Aircraft Argentina SA (a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation) authorized by the government of President Menem to pursue any exports orders. Entering service in May 1999 with Grupo 6 de Caza the Halcón continues to serve with the Fuerza Aerea Argentina and the air forces of Mexico, Ecuador, Finland, New Zealand and Austria.




N.B. Roundels on both wings is just personal taste!

Edited by Spinners
Backstory added.
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Is this a modified Chung-Kuo?  Amazing little jet.

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6 hours ago, JosefK said:

Is this a modified Chung-Kuo?  Amazing little jet.

Yes. I don't know too much about the real Ching-Kuo but incredibly it's been in service for 22 years.

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