The FMA IA 58 Pucará (Quechua: Fortress) is a two-seat light attack aircraft powered by two turboprop engines. It was designed for the COIN (counterinsurgency) and CAS (close air support) roles for the Argentine Air Force. A low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with a retractable landing gear, it was manufactured by the Fabrica Militar de Aviones. It has narrow fuselage and tail section and a tandem seat cockpit with a steep sloping nose. Although heavily armed the weapons are unguided and visually aimed by the crew. The IA 58 only needs a minimum of ground support to operate; it is able to operate from unprepared rough terrains.
Named after a form of South American stone hill fortress, the Pucara’s origins can be traced back to the mid-1960′s when Argentina’s Fabrica Militar de Aviones ( Military Aircraft Factory ) was requested to develop a new combat aircraft capable of performing COIN, CAS and reconnaissance missions. The first flight of the prototype AX-2 Delfin, powered by a pair of Garrett TPE331-U-303 turbo props, took place on 20 August 1969. Subsequent prototypes were re-engined with French Turbom Eca Astazou XVIG turboprops.
The Pucara was designed to operate from rough field and unprepared sites with the minimum of ground support – a point it proved to good effect during the Falklands War of 1982. Operations are possible by night, but not in adverse weather conditions, and weapons aiming is achieved visually by the pilot making full use of the excellent forward visibility over the Pucara’s downward sloping nose.
The IA 58A is the main production variant of the Pucará design. About 108 aircraft were built for Argentina of which 6 were sold to Uruguay. About 3 aircraft were captured by the United Kingdom during the Falkland War, they are now preserved by the RAF. The production standard IA 58A first flew on 8 November 1974, with deliveries to the Argentinean Air Force commencing just over a year later.
The IA 58B is basically a IA 58A with 30mm cannons in place of the 20mm cannons present in the A model. Although a prototype has been developed, none were produced.
The IA 58C is a multi-role single-seat version of the Pucará. The changes included the addition of a Head-up Display, IFF (identification friend of foe), 30-mm DEFA 553 cannons in the nose, two extra hard points for Magic 2 Air-to-Air missiles and additional weapons capability, including Martin Pescador anti-ship missiles.
The IA 66 prototype was a IA 58A model fitted with 1,000-shp Garrett TPE331-11-601W turboprops, none were produced.
However, overall production figures have been modest at best, with exports to Uruguay, Sri Lanka and Colombia accounting for less than 20 aircraft in total
Country of Origin Argentina
Wing Span 14.5m ( 47 ft 7 in )
Length 15.25 m ( 46ft 9in)
Height 5.36m ( 17ft 7 in )
Weight empty, equipped 4,037 kg ( 8,900 lb );
MTOW 6,800 kg ( 14,991 lb )
Engine two 988 shp Turbomeca Astazou XVIG turboprops
Maximum speed 500 km/h ( 311 mph ) at 3,000 m ( 9,840 ft )
Cruising speed 430 km/h ( 267 mph )
Service Ceiling 9,700 m ( 31, 825 ft )
Armament two Hispano HS804 20mm cannon each with 270 rpg, four FN Browning 7.62 mm cannon with 900 rpg; up to 1500 kg ( 3,307lb ) of free fall bombs, napalm tanks, 70 mm ( 2.75 in ) rockets, cannon pods, two auxiliary fuel tanks.
Role: counter insurgency, close air support, light attack
Builder: Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA)
Variants: IA 58A, IA 58B, IA 58C, IA66
Operators: Argentina, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay