A-4SU Super Skyhawk

A-4SU Super Skyhawk

Infobox Aircraft
name =A-4SU Super Skyhawk
type =Fighter-bomber
manufacturer = Douglas Aircraft Company ST Aerospace

caption =RSAF A-4SU Super Skyhawk taking off from RTAFB Korat during Exercise COPE TIGER '02.
first flight = 19 September 1986
introduced = 1989
retired =
produced =
number built =~150
status =Training as of 2007 [http://www.skyhawk.org/2e/singapore/singapore.htm A-4 Republic of Singapore Air Force page on Skyhawk.org] ]
unit cost =
primary user =Republic of Singapore Air Force
more users =
developed from = A-4 Skyhawk
variants with their own articles =

The Singapore Aerospace A-4SU Super Skyhawk is a major upgrade of the A-4S Skyhawk attack aircraft developed for and was used exclusively by the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Design and development

A-4S & TA-4S

Starting in 1973, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) began to acquire A-4 Skyhawks for use. The first batch of over 50 airframes (ex-US Navy A-4Bs & TA-4Bs) was ordered and was subsequently requisitioned from the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona which was released to the Lockheed Aircraft Service (LAS) Company at Ontario, California and its subsidiary Lockheed Aircraft Service Singapore (LASS) at Seletar Airfield, Singapore for a major overhaul and refurbishment.

These aircraft would later emerge as the A-4S single-seater (44 airframes) and the TA-4S two-seat trainer (3 airframes), all having more than 100 changes incorporated (these included a slightly longer nose to house a new avionics package, five stores hardpoints instead of the usual three, a saddle style Automatic Direction Finder dorsal hump, cockpit armour plating, spoilers, cranked refueling probe, AIM-9 Sidewinder capability, brake parachute housing below the jetpipe and 30 mm ADEN cannons in place of the original Colt Mk 12 20 mm cannons) into the standard A-4B airframes. A later order of 4 two-seat trainer airframes was placed in 1976, and these joined the RSAF in 1977.

The TA-4S trainers were not the standard TA-4 with a common cockpit for the student and instructor pilot, but were instead rebuilt by Lockheed with a 28-inch fuselage plug inserted into the front fuselage and a separate bulged cockpit (giving better all round visibility) for the instructor seated behind the student pilot. This arrangement was not the first by Lockheed as it had built the SR-71B Blackbird trainers utilising the same layout of stepped cockpits prior to refurbishing the A-4S for the RSAF.

In 1974, the RSAF received enough refurbished A-4S to form the 142 Sqn and 143 Sqn, which were based at Tengah Air Base and Changi Air Base, respectively. In RSAF service, the A-4S/TA-4S were given 3-digit serial starting with 6 (Eg. 600, 651).

A-4S-1 & TA-4S-1

A second batch of 70 airframes was ordered (mix of ex-US Navy A-4Bs and A-4Cs) in 1980, these were shipped directly to Singapore for rebuilding with the A-4Cs being rebuilt as the A-4S-1s while the A-4Bs was to remained in storage for use as spares. Along with a small number of TA4S-1s, these newer Skyhawks (characterised by its straight refueling probe instead of the cranked refueling probe found on the original A-4S/TA-4S) would join the RSAF as attrition replacements from 1982 onwards with the balance being allocated in 1984 to form a new unit - 145 Sqn which was also based at Tengah Air Base.

In 1983, a third order of 16 stored TA-4Bs from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (boneyard) would see it being converted and rebuilt as the TA-4S-1 trainers (8 airframes). In RSAF service, the A-4S-1/TA-4S-1 were given 3-digit serial starting with 9 (eg. 918, 950). All in all, approximately 150 airframes (all A-4Bs and Cs) were acquired by Singapore.

A-4SU & TA-4SU Super Skyhawk

In 1985, as a result of four A-4S being written off in separate accidents, coupled with the low serviceability of the original batch of A-4S. Investigations conducted by RSAF reveal that the Wright J65 turbojet engines in use by the Skyhawks were too old and it was this very reason that the RSAF decided to upgrade the A-4S/TA-4S rather than to replace them. Frawley, Gerard. "The International Directory of Military Aircraft". Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 2002, p. 155. ISBN 1-875671-55-2.]

With Singapore Aerospace contracted as the main contractor for the upgrading project and a non-afterburning General Electric F404-GE-100D turbofan engine selected as the new engine, the upgrading project would later be extended to cover the entire fleet of newer A-4S-1s as well as taking the opportunity to completely modernise the avionics package (newly installed equipment now included a laser seeker mounted in the nose, Inertial navigation system (INS), Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system, fore & aft Radar warning receivers (RWR) and chaff/flare countermeasures which were mostly of Israeli origins) of the aircraft which had been in use since the late 1950s, note that these are ex-US Navy airframes.

The modernized A-4SU and TA-4SU versions with its new F404 turbofan engine had 29% more thrust, [ [http://www.skyhawk.org/2c/techdata.htm A-4 Technical data] , Skyhawk.org] which resulted in a 30% reduction in takeoff time as well as an increase in usable payload, range and maximum speed. The maximum speed now at sea level is 610 knots (1130 km/h), and maximum cruise speed at 30,000 ft (10,000 m) is 446 knots (826 km/h).

Thus modernised, the new A-4SU Super Skyhawks began rolling out to re-equip the 145 Sqn first, followed by 143 Sqn and 142 Sqn of the RSAF from 1989 onwards. The type was also utilised by the RSAF Black Knights aerobatic display team for precision aerial manoeuvers from 1990 to 2000.

End of front-line service

After 31 years of operations, the RSAF officially withdrew its fleet of A-4SU Super Skyhawks from operational combat service in Singapore on 31 March 2005. The A-4SU's achievements included flying directly from Singapore to the Philippines, incorporating the RSAF's first air-to-air refuelling mission in 1986, [cite web| title= RSAF's first air-to-air refuelling |url=http://sg.geocities.com/sotong_onion/aircraft_series.html |publisher =sg.geocities.com ] as well as the aerobatic display of the 'red and white' Super Skyhawks flown by the RSAF Black Knights during Asian Aerospace 1990, 1994 and 2000, it was last used by the Black Knights during Singapore's National Day Parade held on 9 August 2000. A month before its retirement, the Skyhawk squadron (145 Sqn) won the top honours in a strike exercise against its more modern F-16 and F-5 counterparts and emerged as the Top combat squadron in the Singapore Armed Forces Best Unit Competition, an honour it has held since year 2000. [cite web|url= http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2000/jun/21jun00_nr2.html |title= The SAF's Best Combat Units |publisher= MINDEF press release, Dated: 21 Jun 2000]

In 1998, the French government offered the use of facilities at Cazaux Airbase in the south of France. A 25-year lease for basing rights of 18 A-4SU aircraft and approximately 250 RSAF personnel and their families was signed later that year. Back in Singapore, 142 Sqn was disbanded in 1997, and its aircraft were handed over to 150 Sqn, which had given up its SIAI Marchetti SF.260 basic trainers. [cite web|url= http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/resources/speeches/2002/24jul02_speech.html |title= Inauguration of the 150 Squadron Building in Cazaux Air Base, France |publisher= MINDEF press release, Dated: 24 Jul 2002] The new squadron then took up the role of advanced jet training, using its aircraft as a lead-in fighter trainer for RSAF pilots. This made it the prime candidate for moving to France, and the first of 18 aircraft were "packed" and sent to France by ship in mid-1999 as part of the RSAF's Advanced Jet Training Program. [cite web|url= http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2002/jul/24jul02_nr.html |title= RADM (NS) Teo Inaugurates RSAF’s Advanced Jet Training Facilities at Cazaux |publisher= MINDEF press release, Dated: 24 Jul 2002] The four remaining training aircraft are scheduled to retire in 2007.

On 5 October 2005, one A-4SU Skyhawk was delivered to Singapore Polytechnic as a teaching aid. [ [http://www.sp.edu.sg/SPweb/appmanager/home/default?_nfpb=true&T28001674271160272845562_actionOverride=%2FcmsTools%2Fextension%2Fcontentlist%2Fmain%2Flink&_windowLabel=T28001674271160272845562&T28001674271160272845562nodepath=%2FBEA+Repository%2Fnews%2FPublic%2FOct05%2FSuperSkyhawkTouchesDownAtSP&_pageLabel=SP_ABT_News_Av_OctDec2005 Super Skyhawk Touches down at Singapore Polytechnic] ] Subsequently, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, [ [http://www.np.edu.sg/home/aboutnp/history/Pages/con_history.aspx 2005 - Ngee Ann Polytechnic received a A-4SU Super Skyhawk donated by The RSAF] ] Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University would each receive a A-4SU Skyhawk as well. [ [http://www.totaldefence.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2006/jan/12jan06_nr.html Retired RSAF Super Skyhawks Find New Home in French Museum] ]

Also, two of the retired A-4SU Super Skyhawks were donated to the French Aeronautics Museum (Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace) for static display. A Certificate of Transfer and Acceptance signing ceremony took place between representatives of the RSAF and the French Aeronautics Museum at Cazaux Air Base in France on 12 Jan 2006.


;A-4SU Super Skyhawk:Upgraded from RSAF A-4S and A-4S-1.;TA-4SU Super Skyhawk:Upgraded from RSAF TA-4S and TA-4S-1 trainer.


*Republic of Singapore Air Force
**142 Squadron disbanded in 1997,
**143 Squadron switched to F-16C/Ds,
**145 Squadron switched to F-16C/Ds on 30th April 2003,
**150 Squadron currently operates the A-4SU as advanced trainer from Cazaux Air Base in La Teste-de-Buch(France),
**The RSAF Black Knights aerobatic team operated the A-4SU from 1990 to 2000, they switched to an all F-16C six-ship formation for their performance during Singapore Airshow 2008.

pecifications (A-4SU)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=International Directory of Military Aircraft

crew=1 (2 in TA-4SU)
length main=41 ft 9 in
length alt=12.72 m
span main=27 ft 6 in
span alt=8.38 m
height main=15 ft 0 in
height alt=4.57 m
area main=259.8 ft²
area alt=24.1 m²
empty weight main=10,250 lb
empty weight alt=4,650 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main= 22,500 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 10,205 kg

engine (jet)=General Electric F404-GE-100D
type of jet=turbofan
number of jets=1
thrust main=10,800 lbf
thrust alt=48.4 kN
afterburning thrust main=
afterburning thrust alt=

max speed main=1128 km/h
max speed alt=609 kts, 701 mph
range main=1,700 nm
range alt=2,000 mi, 3,220 km ferry range with 3 drop tanks
ceiling main=12,192 m
ceiling alt=40,000 ft
climb rate main=55 m/s
climb rate alt=10,913 ft/min
loading main=70.7 lb/ft²
loading alt=344.4 kg/m²

guns=Two 30 mm ADEN cannons, 150 rounds/gun
bombs=9,900 lb (4,490 kg) of payload on five external hardpoints
missiles=Two AIM-9 Sidewinders

*Stewart-Warner AN/APQ-145 Mapping & Ranging radar
*GEC/Ferranti 4510 Head-up display (HUD)/weapons delivery system
*Litton LN-93 Inertial navigation system (INS)
*BAE Systems MED-2067 Multi-function displays (MFD)

ee also

* A-4 Skyhawk
* A-4AR Fightinghawk

similar aircraft=
* A-7 Corsair II
* AV-8 Harrier II

* List of attack aircraft

see also=


External links

* [http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2002/oct/27oct02_nr/27oct02_fs2.html Official Factsheet of A-4SU Super Skyhawk]
* [http://www.skyhawk.org/2e/singapore/singapore.htm A-4 Republic of Singapore Air Force page on Skyhawk.org]
* [http://sg.geocities.com/sotong_onion/skyhawk.html Skyhawks bow out on a high note]
* [http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/singaporeskyhawksmy_1.htm The Singapore Skyhawk Story]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/a-4-fms.htm A4D (A-4) Skyhawk Foreign Sales on Global Security.org]
* [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/04/singapore-drops-eurofighter-from-critical-contract/index.php Singapore Drops Eurofighter from Critical Contract]

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