Military Aviation

A rare sight: Brazilian Navy A-4 Skyhawk conducting a Wave-off Over the George Washington aircraft carrier

Brazilian Navy A-4 Skyhawk conducting a Wave-off Over the George Washington

Taken on May 19, 2024 the interesting photos in this post show a Brazilian Navy AF-1 (A-4) Skyhawk, attached to 1st Interceptor and Strike Fighter Squadron (VF) 1, conducting a wave-off over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) while underway in the Atlantic Ocean.

George Washington is deployed as part of Southern Seas 2024 which seeks to enhance capability, improve interoperability, and strengthen maritime partnerships with countries throughout the US Southern Command area of responsibility through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.

Noteworthy the Brazilian Navy is the only one in the region with attack aircraft in service. Moreover, the Brazilian A-4s are a rarity because along with the A-4AR Fightinghawks of the Argentine Air Force, they are the only aircraft of this model still in service with Armed Forces (the vast majority of the world’s fleet is operated by private companies).

Modernized AF-1 Skyhawks

As reported by Zona Militar, a reduced fleet of AF-1 Skyhawks after acquiring a batch of 23 A-4/TA-4KU Skyhawks from Kuwait in the 1990s are currently operated by the Brazilian Naval Aviation. Over the years, the Brazilian Navy undertook a modernization program, an initiative carried out by Embraer and linked to the idea of modernizing and reactivating São Paulo. The idea was to keep the Skyhawks flying until 2025, when the navy would receive a new aircraft carrier and a new fighter model, probably a naval version of the Swedish Gripen NG, also chosen by the FAB as part of its FX-2 Project.

The program, led by Embraer and the navy with support from the Israeli weapons industry, was focused on replacing analog sensors with digital ones. The last upgraded aircraft was delivered by Embraer in April 2022 completing the update of five AF-1Bs and two AF-1Cs (with one of the two seaters lost in 2016).

1st Interceptor and Strike Fighter Squadron future in limbo

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-4F Skyhawk VA-212 Rampant Riders, NP306 / 155019 / 1970

The decommissioning of São Paulo in 2017, after more than a decade inoperative, placed the future of VF-1 in limbo. What justifies the existence of these aircraft is the aircraft carrier, but it had been inoperative for more than a decade, and now there was no possibility of training operations on board in Brazil. The only options would be pilot exchanges in the navies of the United States and France, the only other countries with CATOBAR system aircraft carriers. Without the training, the pilots’ proficiency in embarked operations would be lost and the squadron would gradually become like any land-based fighter unit, creating an argument for its deactivation.

Currently, according to Wikipedia the expectation is to operate the Skyhawks until 2030.

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class August Clawson / U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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