FIVE SURPLUS Aéronautique Navale (French Navy) Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM) aircraft that have been acquired for the Comando de Aviación Naval Argentina (COAN – Argentine Naval Aviation) have finally been shipped from France. The aircraft, Aéronavale serial numbers 1, 31, 41, 44 and 57, completely enshrouded in bright green plastic sheeting for protection, were loaded aboard the Liberian-flagged general cargo vessel Lily Auerbach in the port of Radicatel, France. They were accompanied by 33 large crates full of thousands of spare parts, including eight spare engines, a simulator and a test bench for maintenance and calibration. The ship departed on April 17, routing directly for Bahia Blanca, Argentina, where it is due to arrive on May 10.
As previously reported on Warnsey’s World, an agreement between Argentina and France for the acquisition had been announced in November 2017, following the type’s official retirement from Aéronavale service on July 12, 2016. The aircraft purchased were the final ones in service and are all to the most recent SEM 5 upgrade standard. It is planned to immediately put three of the aircraft into COAN service in order to begin re-training pilots, as Argentina’s own Super Etendards have not been flown since 2011, when they were grounded due to a lack of spares. The remaining two will act as donor airframes to provide spares for the existing fleet, which remains stored at 3 Escuadra Aeronaval/2 Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque’s base at BAN Comandante Espora, Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires.
Delivery of the aircraft had primarily been due to unexpected delays by Argentina in providing payment for the 12.55 million euro deal. Argentina had given approval for the payment on May 10, 2018, but it was not until mid-August that payment was finally made to France.