Argentina retired Super Etendard jets that sank two UK warships

The Argentine Navy remains without its combat aviation. The 11 naval Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft will no longer fly due to a lack of spare parts.

Argentina had 14 aircraft of this model. Three of these were lost and the Argentine Navy was left with 11 in its inventory. However, they haven’t flown in recent years. Part of them [5 that were delivered in 2019] never flew in the colors of the “gauchos”. They arrived in Argentina without key components, starting with the Martin Baker Mk 4A ejection seats, which are subject to a British veto.

However, it would undoubtedly be possible to find ejection seats from the company Task Aerospace for example. This company manufactures them without any British components. But that would not solve the problem for spare parts other than French, according to Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana. Spare parts and components are no longer able to be supplied as they are no longer manufactured, Mr. Taiana explained.

Super Etendard has engaged in combat

Argentina’s Super Etendards have been involved in combat. During the Falklands War [2 April – 14 June 1982] the Super Etendard sank two ships of the British Royal Navy.

Argentina retired Super Etendard jets that sank two UK warships
Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

On the morning of May 4, two Argentine Super Etendards attacked the British HMS Sheffield [D80] Type 42 guided missile destroyer. The two Argentine planes fired AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles. They fail to destroy it, but they damage it. However, the damage was very severe, since six days later, on May 10, the ship sank while under tow. 20 sailors lost their lives during the attack.

The situation was repeated ten days after the sinking of HMS Sheffield. On 21 May, HMS Ardent [F184] of the Royal Navy was attacked by at least three Argentine Super Etendards. They fire at the ship with AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, which are French-made. 22 British sailors died that day.

Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard

The Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard is a French carrier-borne strike fighter aircraft. This aircraft is no longer in production. Its production began in 1974 and stopped nine years later – in 1983. Actually, Argentina was the last country to exploit it. The other two were France and Iraq, both of which retired him long ago.

Argentina retired Super Etendard jets that sank two UK warships
Photo by Martin Otero

The Super Etendard is a single-seat combat aircraft. The aircraft’s power unit consists of a single Snecma Atar 8K-50 turbojet engine, which guarantees it at least 49 kN [11,000 lbf] thrust. The maximum speed that the engine gives the aircraft is 1,205 km/h [749 mph, 651 kn]. The maximum range is 1,820 km [1,130 mi, 980 nmi], but the combat range is only 850 km.

In terms of armament, the Super Étendard has two 30 mm [1.18 in] DEFA 552 cannons with 125 rounds per gun. There are a total of six hardpoints carrying missiles and bombs, four of which are under the wings and two of them are under the fuselage. In addition to the already mentioned AM-39 Exocet Anti-shipping missile, this aircraft can also carry Air-Sol Moyenne Portée nuclear-armed missile, AS-30L, Matra Magic air-to-air missile as well as conventional unguided or laser-guided bombs.

What’s left?

The situation for the Argentine Navy was dire even before the 11 Super Etendards were retired. However, Argentina now effectively has no attack naval aircraft, further complicating the state of its naval capabilities.

Lockheed Martin P-8B Orion
Photo by Martin Otero

At least 10 American-made T-34 Mentor training aircraft continue to train Argentine pilots. These planes are also very old – since 1978 they have been part of the naval schools in Argentina.

Argentina has four P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which, however, are also currently not flying, as they are supposed to be repaired and upgraded. As of 2021, the four S-2 Tracker anti-submarine aircraft, which have actually been in service since the early 1960s in Argentina, will no longer fly.

Of the three, only one AS555 Fennec armed helicopter remained in service. At least four SH-3 Sea King utility helicopters have been confirmed to be combat-ready and flying under the flag of the Argentine Navy.


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