Embraer has delivered the seventh and last updated AF-1 fighter jet to the Brazilian Navy. The program started in 2009 with the aim of modernizing 12 A-4 Skyhawk aircraft, which were acquired from Kuwait in the 1990s.
Five single-seat AF-1Bs and two two-seat AF-1Cs were upgraded and received new navigation systems, weapons, power generation, computers, tactical communication and sensors, including a state-of-the-art multi-mode radar and a new operating system. Embraer also provided the Navy with a flight simulator to facilitate pilot training and improve operational safety.
The A-4s are part of the 1st Intercept and Attack Aircraft Squadron (VF-1), based at the São Pedro d’Aldeia Naval Base, in Rio de Janeiro, and were even part of the wing aboard the aircraft carrier São Paulo (A12), deactivated in 2017. In all, the Brazilian Navy acquired 23 aircraft.
The upgraded AF-1 fighter features Israeli EL/M 2032 radar, which can perform air-to-air, air-to-sea, air-to-ground and navigation searches, as well as having the ability to track 64 maritime targets simultaneously at a range of up to 256 km – in air-to-air mode the radar range is 128 km. The fighters upgraded by Embraer can also use more advanced missiles and “smart bombs”, according to the naval force.
The registration aircraft N-1004 delivered to the Brazilian Navy is probably the last A-4 in the world to undergo a modernization process. In addition to Brazil, the McDonnell Douglas subsonic jet also remains in service with the Argentine air force.