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The Xavantes were calculated by the FAB logisticsfacility to reach their end of operational life by2011. According to Col. Carlos Eduardo, this willnow be prolonged to 2018 or 2019! This fascina-ting move got even more interesting when 1/4GAV showed-up with two Impala IIs in full FAB andunit markings during the 2006 annual 'Día deCaça' (Fighter Pilots Day) parade at Base Aérea deSanta Cruz near Rio de Janeiro. It appeared thatthe former South African airframes were in a verygood condition, with only 2000 to 2500 flighthours per aircraft, with up to 15.000 hours on theFAB equivalents.
The Impala II is derived from the MB-326MImpala I and were both licence-built by the SouthAfrican Atlas Aeronautics Industry during the '60sand '70s. The aircraft is equipped with the samePiaggio Rolls Royce Bristol Siddeley 540 engineas the Brazilian Xavante. The Impala Mk IIs alsofeatures a Martin-Baker Mk 6 zero-zero ejectionseat (zero-ninety in the Xavante), Defa 30mm can-non, radar warning receivers, chaff and flare dis-pensers and is able to carry up to 1.814kg of ordi-nance under its six under-wing hard points. Theflight characteristics are quite similar the formerCommander, Col. Eduardo told. However the ImplaMk II has an aileron booster and a seven centime-tre taller horizontal stabilizer, both to improvemanoeuvrability. According to the Pacau squa-dron Commander, the Impala Mk II – which hasbeen renamed to FAB standard as: AT-26A Impala– has about 90% commonality with the Xavante.The FAB intended to bring a total of fourteenAT-26A Impalas in to service with 2/5 GAV, howe-ver, this never came in to fact. Just two formerSAAF Impalas adapted FAB colours and operatednext two the Xavantes. The aircraft were sidelinedafter one year due to major corrosion problems onthe RR-engine fan blades. They never returned toservice at BA Natal.
After nearly 39 years of service, the Brazilian airforce formally retired its Embraer EMB-326Xavante fleet on 3 December 2010. Local sourcesindicate that the service is finalising the technicaland operational requirements for a new lead-infighter trainer, with an eye on releasing a requestfor proposals in 2011.Air force sources list the prime candidates as theAlenia Aermacchi M-346, BAE Systems Hawk 128and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed MartinT-50. However, other contenders are also expec-ted to enter the fray for the 18-24 aircraft require-mentEmbraer assembled 182 EMB-326GBs under licen-ce between 1971 and 1983. Of these, 166 weresold to the Brazilian air force. Employed primarilyas an advanced trainer and light strike aircraft,the Xavante's career with the service began win-ding down in 1998, making way for the Alenia