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van der Ende CJ, Jan-2011. AT-26 Xavante - Brazilian Farewell, Pilots & Planes Military Issue 2

van der Ende CJ, Jan-2011. AT-26 Xavante - Brazilian Farewell, Pilots & Planes Military Issue 2

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Published by: Foro Militar General on Sep 02, 2012
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Plots & Plas Mltary | # | Jaary 0 | 
AT-26 Xavante
Brazilian farewell
After nearly 39 years of service, the Brazilian airforce formally retired its Embraer EMB-326 Xavantefleet on 3 December 2010.
uring the last years many speculationswent around that the Brazilian high com-mand would retire the last of their origi-nally 166 ordered EMB-326 Xavantes. It was notedabout five years ago that a live extension programof the remaining EMB-326s would be implemen-ted. Brazilian Air Force commanders bought for-mer South African Air Force Impala Mk 1s and Mk2s and the Natal based 1/4 GAV ‘Pacau’ wouldexpand. Unfortunately, today the tables haveturned for this legendary trainer and light attackaircraft.
1/4 GAV 'PAcAu'
The first Squadron of the fouth Aviation Group(1/4 GAV) was formed on March 24, 1947 atFortaleza, it then operated WW-2 legends like theLockheed A-28 Hudson and North American B-25JMitchell. With both aircraft retired or transferredby 1956, Pacau received the P-47D Thunderbolt,then becoming a fighter training unit. This joy wasnot long lived as the unit was hampered by main-tenance problems, so the P-47 was temporarilyreplaced the same year by the North American T-6Texan.By December 1956 they were blessed to receivethe first fighter aircraft: the Lockheed T-33A. The'T-bird' became fully operational by 1958 it main-tained operation until 1973.
 AT-26 XAVAnTe
Brazil’s Embraer obtained licence production fromthe Italian Aermacchi to produce the MB-326.Thelocally designated AT-26 (A = Ataque -Attack)(T = Treinamento-Training) Xavante was deliveredto Pacau the same year. The unit was dedicated to
Plots & Plas Mltary | # | Jaary 0 | 
the formation of the new division leaders for theBrazilian Fighter community. The high level of pro-fessionalism and great demand on the studentpilots ‘Studs’ gave it the title of 'Sorbone da Caça'(Fighter's Sorbone), the latter has also been pain-ted in special colours on Xavante serialled: 4601/cn 78146389.By January 9th, 2002 Pacau transferred fromFortaleza to Natal becoming a full operationalsquadron with all respective tasks. One of the for-mer Squadron Commanders, Col. Carlos Eduardoemphasises that the unit has a very high level of flight safety with the cheap to operate AT-26Xavante, which still is a very good experience forhis pilots. This all has to be seen in a LatinAmerican scenario where it can easily operate in alow-threat crisis.Pacau participated in many local FAB exercisesand international exercises like CRUZEX II, III andIV and PLATA. Very locally, Pacau operated during'RODOPISTA', a highway strip exercise nearCampina Grande, 90kms south of Natal. The localroad BR 230 was closed between km 117 and 123for normal traffic. This short but spectacular eventwas lasted just one day and was also attended bytwo other FAB units.
The prototype of the legendary jet trainer; MB-326saw its first flight trough the Italian skies onDecember 10, 1957, carrying the registrationI-MAKI. During May 1970, the Brazilian aircraftconstructor Embraer obtained the rights to licen-ce-built the MB-326G, which was locally known asEMB-326GB (B for Brazil). A total of 182 Xavanteswere built from 1971 to 1981. This Italian successstory was sold to thirteen countries and a total of 778 MB-326 where built in different variants.The Brazilian specimen flew in eight differentunits of which the Natal based 1/4 GAV and 2/5GAV were/are the last operational FAB units tooperate the Xavante. The 2/5 GAV Joker squadronretired their AT-26s by late 2004 when the squa-dron received Brazil’s latest, theEMB-314/A-29A/B Super Tucano.Currently, Pacau is the sole operator of theXavante, however, they currently have eight air-craft on loan to the 1st GDA ‘Jaguares’, based atAnápolis. The former Mirage III operatorexchanged their interceptors for twelve surplusMirage 2000Cs and Bs from the French Air Force.The Jaguares utilize their Xavantes as an interme-diate solution to keep the job-less pilots air-worthy on jet aircraft. The lost Xavantes rejoinedtheir brothers at the Pacau squadron during2008.Back in 2003 the Brazilian Air Force commanderssigned an agreement with the official SouthAfrican Arms Acquisition and Marketing AgencyARMSCOR for the delivery of three single seat sur-plus MB-326KC Impala IIs which were flown toBrazil in December the same year on board of aLockheed C-130 Hercules. During 2004 a follow-upcontract was signed for single seat MB-326MImpala Is and bi-place MB-328KC Impala IIs, allintended to be used for spares in order to extendthe life for the EMBRAER-built Xavantes. This air-craft and spare shipment arrived to the Brazilianport of Recife in 26 sea containers.
Plots & Plas Mltary | # | Jaary 0 | 3
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.
The end
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

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