SF.260 in military service

SF.260M

A two / three seat military trainer, developed from the initial civil SF.260 and flown for the first time on October 10th, 1970. Introduced a number of important structural and aerodynamic improvements, many of which were subsequently applied to later civil versions. Meets the necessary requirements for basis flying training; instrument flying; aerobatics; including deliberate spinning and recovery; night flying; navigation flying and formation flying.


SF.260W

Warrior trainer / tactical support version of the SF.260M with strengthend airframe and wings, first flown (I-SJAV) in May 1972. Two underwing hardpoints for up to 300 kg (661 lb) of external stores and cockpit stores selection panel. Able to undertake a wide variety of roles, including low-level strike; forward air control; armed reconnaissance and liaison. Also meets some requirements as SF.260M for use as a trainer.




up and down view of lefthand weapon pylon


SF.260TP

The turboprop version of the SF.260C, prototype (I-FAIR) first flew in July 1980. Two underwing hardpoints. SF.260's with piston engines can be converted to turboprops. Conversions are known to have been done by Zimbabwe and the Philippines. Certificated by RAI 29 October 1993.


F.260E/F

Updated SF.260D, modified for the U.S.Air Force Enhanced Flight Screener competition with 260 hp IO-540-E4AF engine. The competition was won by the Slingsby T-67M-260. Other changes were: electrical elevator trim; Vle & Vlo increase; semi-automatic fuel management; new canopy profile, new flap actuator; added fences on wings; smaller stall initiators; flap hinges axis modified. Both the E and F model were certificated by the FAA on 17 August 1994.
Technically the company introduced an F model in 1992. Only difference between the E and F model is reportedly the engine fuel system, with the F.260E having a direct-injection engine and the F.260F having a carburator engine. The F.260E/F can be used as trainer / tactical support version by installing two underwing pylons for military use. Certificated by the RAI on 21 January 1992 and by the FAA on 17 August 1994. Customers being the air forces of Zimbabwe, Uruguay, Mexico, Venezuela, Mauritania and Italy.





Belgian Air Force
Early 1969 Belgium ordered 36 SF.260M's to replace the Stampe SV-4B bi-plane as a primary trainer. Thus becoming the first military customer. Deliveries took place from November 1969 untill Spring 1971. An additional nine SF.260D's were all delivered during 1992. These are IFR equipped, they operate alongside the eldery SF.260M's. From early 2000 all belgium SF.260s will be repainted in a yellow color scheme after undergoing IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Necessary).
In June 2005 a SF.260M, serial ST-17, was flown to Venegono, Italy, for minor avionics upgrade by Aermacchi which should be ready by November. This aircraft will service as a prototype before the other SF.260M's will be upgraded in Belgium.
New E model wings are being mounted during the IRAN, replacing old wings which are nearly run out of hours.
In mid 2006 the Belgian Air Component started its modernization project for its SF.260M fleet by bringing aircraft ST-24 in the workshop.
The Mike-plus version features a modernized cockpit with new avionics. A new communications and navigation suite, which combines all radio equipment with a Garmin GNC 300XL GPS in a single block. It also features a J.P. Instruments EDM-800 engine data management system. This is an FAA approved primary instrument for engine temperature, outside air temperature and fuel flow. Work coincides with the aircrafts next major overhaul. The external differences that the SF.260M+ shows is the white GPS antenna and the outside air temperature probe in front of the cockpit canopy.
Aermacchi modified the prototype aircraft, ST-17, but the remaining fleet will be modified by the people of the Maintenance Group of 1st Wing at Beauvechain airbase.
During a recent visit to the unit, I also noted work in progress on replacement of the aircrafts firewall. I forgot to ask why. Perhaps to make it asbestos free.



(photo by Hendrik van der Veen)

Bolivian Air Force
Six SF.260W's were delivered in 1978 for pilot training. Not much is known about their service life. Only in 1987 three aircraft were sold to a Belgian dealer; who resold the aircraft to the Burkina Faso Air Force.
No longer in service.

Royal Brunei Air Wing
Early 1982 Brunei took delivery of two SF.260W's for pilot training to replace Piper Cherokees, with a secondary COIN role.
Both SF.260W's made their last flights in January 1998, being surplus after the delivery of four Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II's in 1997. In May 2000 the Ministry of Defence was offering one of their SF.260's for sale, the other intended to be preserved in a local museum.
I have not heard from these aircraft since, I assume they are still in storage in Brunei.
No longer in service.



Burkina Faso Air Force
Received a total of 19 SF.260's from various sources: 12 from Libya, 4 from Siai Marchetti and 3 from Aspair.
The Philippines never delivered any SF.260's to Burkina Faso.
By 1992 a larger part of the fleet was parked unservicable in a hangar. Little is known about their service. In March 1993 a boeing 707 landed on the Belgian airport of Ostend. On board of this cargoplane were six dismantled SF.260W's, all sold to mr Raymond Frappot in France. By 2006 all six have been airworthy again and sold on the civilian market.
One SF.260, BF8473, is preserved as gate guard on Ougagadougou air base. Four SF.260's are reported being in service at Bobo Dioulasso air base.



F-GOBF in its former military markings

Union of Burma Air Force
Twenty one aircraft were delivered in two batches of ten SF.260M's and eleven SF.260W's, for the pilot training and coin role. A Belgian dealer bought sixteen surviving SF.260's for resale at the secondhand market in 1990. Four were sold in the USA, twelve others went to the Sri Lanka Air Force. One SF.260 is preserved in the Defence Services Museum at Yangon, Myanmar.
No longer in service.


Burundi Air Force
Three SF.260C's, factory fresh were delivered in the end of 1981. Later followed by one former Libyan SF.260WL
The Italian Polizia seized two Burundi SF.260's at Legnago in Italy in February 2003. Some people were arrested. Both aircraft arrived in Italy dismantled inside a container. According to its shipping papers the SF.260's were intended for a museum, but the Polizia believes the aircraft arrived in Italy for maintenance and IRAN, before being shipped back to Burundi. The aircraft are seized because of violation of United Nations embargo on trading arms with Burundi and Rwanda. Because of the tension between the Hutu and Tutsi people in both countries.
The two SF.260's were still impounded by late 2006.
Status of remaining aircraft in Burundi unknown


Chad Air Force
Chad informed the United Nations that during the conflict with Libya, it had destroyed eight Libyan Air Force SF.260WL's and captured nine others besides destroying and capturing other equipment. May be as many as six former Libyan SF.260WL's were pressed in the Air Force of Chad. Additional information requested.
By 1988 four SF.260W's were identified as being in service, two of them were overhauled one year later in France.
In November 2006 Libya supplied Chad with four SF.260W aircraft, including crew, due to tentions between Chad and Sudan over the Dafur area. One newly supplied SF.260W was shot down on its first mission in Chad by rebel forces, killing the crew.


Comores Military Aviation
This small group of islands was mentioned as end user of a large batch of SF.260W's in 1977, they latter turned up in Rhodesia. An additional three SF.260W's were ordered for the Comores in 1978, it is unclear if they were ever delivered, they may have been in storage in Belgium and/or Italy for years. In 1983 two were sold to the USA.
No longer in service.


Congo Air Force / Zaire Air Force
The former Belgian Congo was an early customer of the SF.260, by ordering twelve SF.260M's in the late 1960's. The aircraft were delivered to the Training College on the airbase Kinshasa in 1970 and 1971. In 1972 the country changed its name in Zaire, only to be renamed the Republic of Congo after a bloody civil war in 1997.
There is a report of nine new SF.260MZ's awaiting delivery to Zaire on Venegono (Italy) in October 1982, to replace the survivors of the first batch, which had been returned to the factory. It is unclear if these new aircraft were ever delivered. Five old SF.260MC's were eventually sold to the second-hand market in the USA.
No longer in service ?


Ethiopian Air Force
A batch of ten SF.260TP's were delivered in 1984 for pilot training. An additional twelve SF.260TP's were reportedly delivered in 1988.
No further details known.


Haitian Air Corps
A batch of six SF.260TP's were delivered in September 1992 to be used for local pilot training. In the years before student pilots were send abroad for pilot training.
Over the years the overall situation in Haiti got worse, as it made headlines in the news, and is now sadly one of the poorest countries. Five surviving aircraft, of which one dismantled after an accident, somehow were sold in the USA. One of the flyable turboprops was lost during its ferryflight to the USA, when it ditched in the Atlantic. See NTSB MIA96LA009 reports.
No longer in service.




Indonesian Air Force
The Republic of Singapore Air Force officially transferred six SF.260 trainer aircraft to the Indonesian Air Force in a ceremony held at Halim air base, Jakarta, 5 July 2002. The Chief of Air Force of the RSAF, Major General Lim Kim Choon and the Chief of Staff of the TNI-AU, Air Chief Marshal Chappy Hakim officiated at the ceremony where they signed the certificate for the transfer of the aircraft. The RSAF plans to transfer nineteen SF.260 aircraft in all. The remaining thirteen aircraft will be delivered to Indonesia later in the year 2002. The RSAF provided training for pilots and maintenance personnel. Related ground tools and spares were included in the deal.
The SF.260 aircraft entered service with Skadron Udara 2 at air base Halim.



Irish Air Corps
The Irish Air Corps bought ten SF.260W's in April 1976, with deliveries in March and April 1977. Replacing the Chipmunk and the Provost in the pilot training and weapons training role. In 1979 an additional SF.260 was delivered, replacing a crashed one.
For a short periode in 1991 and 1992 three SF.260D's were leased to accelerate pilot training.
In 2004 eight Pilatus PC-9M Turboprop trainers entered service to replace the SF.260 fleet. The SF.260's are kept in operational storage, pending their future.
Six SF.260's were sold by tender to Airpower Aviation Resources, Los Angeles, CA., in 2006. Airpower Aviation is Aermacchi's SF.260 representative in North America. A crew of Airpower dismantled the six aircraft late 2006 and put them in crates for shipment to Los Angeles.
The six aircraft entered the US Register on 15 May 2007 by the its dealer Airpower International Inc.
SF.260WE, serial 231, stayed behind in Baldonnel for the museum.
no longer in service.



(photo by Hendrik van der Veen)

Italian Air Force
In the late 1960's / early 1970's three SF.260's were evaluated by the air force but then there was no need to replace the Piaggio P-148, then in use for pilot training. Only in the mid 1970's twenty SF.260M's were ordered to replace the Piaggio P-148. The first aircraft were delivered to airbase Latina in the summer of 1976, entering service with 207 gruppo.
A second batch of twentyfive aircraft was ordered in 1980, only to be reduced to the 13 SF.260M's delivered. A third batch of 13 SF.260M's were delivered in 1987.
On 4 August 2005 a formal delivery ceremony was held to mark the first delivery of the Aermacchi F.260EA. On that date the first two aircraft were officially accepted by Inspector General Giovanni Perrone Compagni on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Defence.
The first few F.260EA aircraft will be used to qualify four pilot instructors of 70 Stormo at Latina, which will operate the new F.260EA replacing the Siai Marchetti SF.260AM fleet.
An additional 12 aircraft are being delivered this year. From 2006 the 70 Stormo will commence screening and primary flight training on the new F.260 model. 30 Aermacchi F.260EA aircraft have been ordered.
15 SF.260AM's are being dismantled and put in crates for shipment to the USA by Airpower Aviation crew. The first two received N registrations mid 2006 and are now flying in the USA. Other old SF.260AM's are going to be scrapped

Friday 27 July 2007 Alenia Aermacchi handed over the final two F.260EA aircraft to the Italian Air Force, during a ceremony held at Venegono. All 30 aircraft entered service with the 70th Stormo based at airbase Latina, replacing the SF.260AM fleet.



(photo by Hendrik van der Veen)

Libyan Air Force
Became a major customer of the SIAI Marchetti SF.260 with an order of 240 Warriors, partial te be assembled in a new plant near Tripoli. How many SF.260W's were actualy delivered is unknown, but deliveries started in 1977 or 1978. During the delivery, problems appeared by a US embargo on avionics. Reportedly the US made avionics were replaced by French made, which gave delays in the delivery. In the late 1970's large numbers of SF.260's were parked on Vergiate awaiting delivery.
The SF.260WL was intended for use by the Air Force Academy for pilot training, but was also used for ground support of army troops during the border war with Chad. Overall not much in known about the service life of the aircraft.
The Libyan government supported friendly countries with arms, and a number of SF.260W's were handed over to air forces like: Burkino Faso; Burundi; Nicaragua; Uganda and may be others. In 1987 Chad reported to the United Nations the destruction of 8 F.260's and the capture of 9 others during its border war with Libya. Some of these secondhand Libyan aircraft may even found their way to the US market.
In November 2006 four SF.260W's were delivered to Chad as military aid, sadly one was shot down on its first mission, killing its crew

Alenia Aermacchi is to support refurbishment of 12 SF.260 primary trainers for the Libyan Air Force. The work will be carried out jointly by Alenia Aermacchi and Tripoli based Libyan Italian Advanced Technology.
Alenia Aermacchi says the contract covers the overhaul of the airframe and systems of the SF.260 aircraft, including their propellers and engines. Work is to start late 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

I would like to know what happened with the rest of the SF.260WL fleet, what was the fate of the other 200plus SF.260 aircraft. If you have information, please let me known.


Islamic Republic of Mauritania Air Force
At the end of July 2000, the first of four Aermacchi F.260E's was seen test flying at Venegono in a pale sand and light tan camouflage scheme of the Mauritanian Air Force.



Mexican Air Force
Mexico is among the new customers for the F.260E model built by Aermacchi. Thirty aircraft were ordered. The first mexican F.260E's were seen on test flights early 2000 at Venegono. During February 2000 six F.260Es were seen lined up at Santa Lucia, Mexico.



Nicaragua Air Force
Between four to six SF.260W's were received by the Fuerza Aerea Sandinista as support from Libya. They may have been used in the coin role against the contra's and in the pilot training role. No further details known. Three SF.260s surfaced in the USA on the secondhand market, a fourth is slowly being rebuilt in Guatemala.
No longer in service.


Philippine Air Force
In the early 1970s an order was placed for 48 SF.260's divided between 32 SF.260M's and 16 SF.260W's. The first six SF.260's were delivered in May 1973, replacing the Beech T-34A Mentor with 100th Training Wing at airbase Fernando.
The 15th Strike Wing on airbase Sangley Point received the SF.260W Warrior as an addition to the North American T-28 Trojans. They were possibly used in combat against rebel forces in the south of the Philippines. But little is known about its service life. In the early 1980s, the surviving Warriors were disarmed and transfered to the training role with 100th TW.
The Philippines Air Force signed with Agusta a contract for the delivery of 18 SF.260TP turboprops on December 31st 1991, replacing the SF.260M/W's in the training role. The first SF.260TP was noted in country on July 1st, 1993.

Under "Project LAYANG" the air force plans to upgrade 18 SF.260M/W aircraft to the SF.260TP standard, by replacing the Lycoming piston engine with the Allison 250-B17D turboprop engine and newer avionics. The first upgraded SF.260 was delivered in 1996, no further upgraded SF.260's are reported yet.

The Philippines is to finalise a deal with Alenia Aermacchi for 18 new-build F.260E primary/basic trainers. Deliveries are expected to start in 2007 (?) and conclude during 2008.




Rhodesian Air Force / Air Force of Zimbabwe
Despite an arms embargo, two batches of SF.260 aircraft were delivered in 1977. Because of the embargo several buying teams were travelling the world looking for suitable equipment. Through various routes 17 SF.260C and 14 SF.260W aircraft arrived. The former to be used in the training role, while the warriors were being used for light attack duties and escort of konvoys.
In 1984/85 a reportedly 8 SF.260W's were converted to SF.260TP standard by replacing the piston engine by a turboprop engine.
It was announced at the 1997 Paris Salon that the Air Force of Zimbabwe had ordered six F.260F aircraft, thus becoming the first operator of this new model. In June 1998 three F.260F's were seen test flying at the Aermacchi homebase of Venegono. All six should have been delivered in 1998. Little is known yet about their serials and construction numbers.



(photo by Dave West)

Republic of Singapore Air Force
The SF.260M was chosen as a Cessna 172 replacement during 1971, for the basic flying training role. Sixteen aircraft were ordered of which two were lost during their delivery flight and were not replaced. Two additional batches of each six aircraft were ordered in 1979 and 1981, believed to be SF.260W Warriors. All marchettis entered service with 150 sqn on the airbase Seletar.
The fleet of SF.260s was withdrawn from use in November 1999 after the RSAF shifted its pilot training programme to Australia and switched to a different type of trainer aircraft. The history of 150 sqn was passed on to an A-4 Skyhawk squadron based at Cazaux, France.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force officially transferred six SF.260 aircraft to the Indonesian Air Force during a ceremony held at Halim air base, Jakarta, on 5 July 2002. The remaining thirteen aircraft were delivered to Indonesia later in the year.
No longer in service.



(photo by Mike Yeo)

Somali Aeronautical Corps
After ending the war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden region in the late 1970s. Somalia went looking for military aid in order to rebuilt its air force. This resulted in the delivery of six SF.260C aircraft in a civilian colourscheme in 1979, followed by six additional aircraft in camouflage. Only by that time, the short lived peace had changed into a civil war. In the early 1990s the last government collapsed leaving the country in total chaos to a number of warloards, fighting among each other for total power. Even the intervention by a United Nation force landing in the country in December 1992 failed. And had to retreat with major losses.
In 1993 several SF.260's were seen in bad condition dumped on the airfields of Mogadishu and Kismayu among the remains of the Somalian Air Force.
No longer in service.


Sri Lanka Air Force
Six SF.260TP's were delivered in 1985, to be used in the pilot training role. But were also later employed in the light attack role in the governments war against the Tamil Tigers. Two former factory demonstration aircraft were delivered in 1986 to replace lost aircraft, added by three new built aircraft in 1988. All SF.260 aircraft are based with 1st Flying Training Wing on the airbase Anuradhapura. The SF.260TP fleet was expanded in 1990/91 with the delivery of twelve former Myanmar SF.260W warriors.
The SF.260W fleet was withdrawn from use in 2001, being replaced by Chinese build Nanchang PT-6 aircraft. The SF.260TP fleet retired as few years later.
No longer in service.


Royal Thai Air Force
The North American T-6 Texan was replaced by twelve SF.260's, delivered to the Flying Training School on airbase Don Muang in 1973/74. Six additional SF.260M's followed in 1978. In the 1980s the SF.260 aircraft were replaced by the RFB FT-600 Fanliner. Survivors were transfered to 6th Wing and later to the 4th Wing, although their role is unknown. All SF.260's are reportedly withdrawn from use in 1999.
Aerodef pte ltd, part of the Aerotech Group, bought by tender 10 SF.260's from the Government of Thailand in 2002. The SF.260's, B and C version, will be overhauled at the Aerotech facilities at Clark airport in the Philippine. They are "FOR SALE" in the condition "as is" or "overhauled".
The Air Force has one SF.260MT preserved in its Royal Thai Air Force Museum at Don Muang, Bangkok.
No longer is service.
Three SF.260M's have been refurbished and are now operated by the RTAF Flying Association under civilian registrations, HS-AFD, HS-AFE and HS-AFF.



Republic of Tunisia Air Force
In 1974/75 nine SF.260C and twelve SF.260W aircraft were delivered for pilot training and weapons training, replacing the SAAB 91 Safir. While still in use, little is known about their service life.


Turkish Air Force
Forty SF.260D's were delivered during 1992-1995. Of these 34 were assembled by Turkish Aerospace Industries from kits supplied by Agusta. In Turkish service the SF.260D replaced the Beech T-34A Mentor.



Uganda Army Air Force
Reportedly two SF.260W's were received from Libya as part of a military aid package. Followed by six aircraft from Italy. It is unknown if they are still operational.


United Arab Emirates Air Force (Dubai)
Received in 1975 one SF.260W together with a batch of Aermacchi MB.326's, for use as weapons trainer. The single warrior was sold in 1983 to the USA. It was replaced the same year by six SF.260TP's, they served with the Flying Training Academy.
All five remaining SF.260TP's have now been withdrawn from use. And were sold to Airpower Aviation Resources Inc, for resale on the US market. One aircraft is still in its crate awaiting a buyer, the others have been sold.
No longer in service.


Airpower Aviation Resources Inc.

Uruguayan Air Force
The order of the Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya is for 13 Aermacchi F.260Es. The second aircraft was noted late July 1999 at Venegono going for a testflight. In December 2000 the final three were delivered. The air force has designated the F.260EU as T-260.



Venezuela Air Force
Aermacchi announced early February 1998, that it was notified by the Fuerza Aerea Venezolana, that its F.260E had been selected as the new screener / primary training aircraft. Seen taxying at Venegono early August 2000, was the first of twelve F.260Es painted in full Venezuelan silver colorscheme with full markings. After delivery they will replace the Beech T-34 Mentors at BA Mariscal Surce, serving with Esc.de Vuelo Primario 141 (Primary Training Squadron).



Zambian Air Force
Nine SF.260M's were delivered in 1970/71 to a flying school on airbase Lusaka. Surviving SF.260's seem to have been withdrawn from use in 1976. They were replaced by the SAAB MFI-15-200 Safari. In 1993 Aerotech bought three aircraft from Zambia and shipped the airframes to their facilities in the Philippines.
No longer in service.






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update: 31 Dec. 2007.hhvdv



I am a collector of SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 history
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