A-4N Skyhawk Returns to Air Tattoo After 40 Years!

Discovery Air Defence operates a fleet of modified A-4N and TA-4J Jet aircraft in the airborne training services role. All A-4 aircraft have ESCAPAC 1G-3 ejection seat systems. ( photo via Air Tattoo)
Discovery Air Defence operates a fleet of modified A-4N and TA-4J Jet aircraft in the airborne training services role. All A-4 aircraft have ESCAPAC 1G-3 ejection seat systems. ( photo via Air Tattoo)
Discovery Air Defence operates a fleet of modified A-4N and TA-4J Jet aircraft in the airborne training services role. All A-4 aircraft have ESCAPAC 1G-3 ejection seat systems. ( photo via Air Tattoo)

Making a rare visit from Germany to this year’s Air Tattoo will be an A-4N Skyhawk from a fleet operated by Discovery Air Defence, based at Wittmund. The A-4N Skyhawk will be on static display on the Saturday and Sunday of the 2017 show. The Canadian company began operating a fleet of seven Skyhawks from the German base in January 2015 after winning a contract to provide an adversarial air support to help train Luftwaffe crews. The A-4s are contracted to provide services ranging from threat simulation, target towing to flight test support.

The aircraft based at Wittmund were originally Israeli Air Force airframes before being purchased, stripped and modified by Discovery Air Services. This modification including fitting modern navigation equipment and glass cockpits, whilst retaining some of the key military capabilities like the A-4’s air-to-air refueling systems.

In February 2017 it was reported that Discovery had joined forces with Inzpire Limited to bid for the UK Ministry of Defence’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) program.

The last time an A-4 visited the Air Tattoo was 1977, when a small number of A-4Gs visited Greenham Common from 805 Squadron, Royal Australian Navy. The aircraft launched from HMAS Melbourne, which itself was attending the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in Portsmouth.

An Air Tattoo spokesman said: “Confirmation that an A-4 Skyhawk is participating in next month’s Air Tattoo is great news and will be welcomed, in particular, by all our enthusiasts. The type last appeared at an Air Tattoo 40 years ago when the event was staged at RAF Greenham Common and since then we’ve been trying hard to get one back. It’s a compact little fighter that in its heyday punched above its weight and played important roles in significant conflicts during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Its rarity alone makes it one of the stand-out aircraft taking part in this summer’s airshow.”

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3 Comments

    • Hi Jeffrey… great to hear from you! Discovery Air owns and operates A-4N and TA-4J Skyhawks, none of which were formerly owned by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. You must be thinking of Draken International, which acquired eight A-4Ks from New Zealand a couple of years ago. Interestingly, six of those RNZAF Skyhawks were former Royal Australian Navy A-4Gs, upgraded to A-4K status. Apparently, they had less time on the clocks than the original Kiwi birds. Thanks very much for your interest.

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