The Brazilian Navy would be interested in buying used supersonic fighters to replace its A-4 Skyhawk, said the Brazilian naval “Poder Naval“. The most highly rated aircraft for this would be the F/A-18 Hornet, currently the most numerous aircraft in the US Navy.

Confirmation of Brazilian interest was reported during a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro in which the current commander of the Navy expressed his intention to end the troubled modernization program of the A-4 Skyhawk jets (AF-1 in the Brazilian designation) to accelerate the acquisition of new aircraft.

The purchase would be an opportunity as naval officers have been following the Hornet deactivation process for many years. Kuwait, for example, has F/A-18 C/D fighters being replaced by the advanced Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon.

There is also a chance to incorporate 12 Super Hornet from US Navy inventory that would be cheaper to maintain. In that case, the planes would not be available until the mid-decade. On the other hand, Kuwait fighters have fewer flight hours and have not suffered from the rigors of aircraft carrier operations.

A-4 fighters on the flight deck of the São Paulo aircraft carrier that was disabled in 2018 (Brazilian Navy)

Useless

The desire of the Brazilian Navy to have a fighter detachment has been an obsession with the force. Forbidden to operate fixed-wing aircraft until the 1990s, it finally put into practice a plan to operate an aircraft carrier with its own fighters. For this purpose, it acquired the Foch from the French Navy and purchased A-4 planes from Kuwait, which were kept in good condition.

However, the aircraft carrier, renamed São Paulo, spent more time at the shipyard than on missions and ended up being recently deactivated. In its place, the Navy acquired a British helicopter carrier, which meant that the few A-4s started to operate only on land.

Should the Navy manage to acquire the F/A-18, these fighters would probably continue to operate from ground bases, which makes little sense after all, the Brazilian air defense is the responsibility of the Brazilian Air Force. By the way, the South American country is about to receive 36 Saab Gripen E fighters that defeated the Super Hornet in the FX-2 competition.