Douglas A-4N Skyhawk Aircraft Data
Photo ID 68761 by Paul Newbold. Company Owned Airborne Tactical Advantage Company ATAC Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, 159544
The McDonnell Douglas A-4N Ayit (Hebrew for Eagle) was the fourth operational version of the breed, after the A-4E, A-4F and A-4H, to enter service with the Israeli Air Force, the Zroa HaAvir VeHahalal (Air and Space Arm), but commonly known as the Heil HaAvir (Air Corps) or Israeli Defence Force/Air Force (IDF/AF).
The A-4N version was based on the airframe of the US Marine Corps A-4M, and retained the uprated Pratt&Whitney J52-P-408A turbojet engine. Main difference between the two versions were the avionics, navigation and weapons delivery systems. Initially equipped with a Lear-Siegler Inc digital computer, this system was replaced by Israeli made equipment, produced by Haifa-based Elbit Systems Ltd. The IAI Tamam Division’s inertial navigation system replaced the US system, as was the Elliot Automation HUD. After arrival in Israel this system was gradually replaced by a locally designed and produced system.
The A-4Ns were delivered with AN/APQ-145 radar, but from 1982 a number of aircraft were fitted with the AN/ABS-19 Angle Rate Bombing system (ARBS), recognisable by the sensor in a glass nose cone also seen on the US-operated A-4M, although without the associated ECM blisters. Aircraft '309', '331' and '337' of No.116 Squadron are known to have been fitted with the ARBS. The original cannon armament of the A-4M, two Colt 20mm cannon made way for two French-designed but Israeli-manufactured DEFA 30mm cannon, with 150 rounds per gun.


A-4N Ayit for Israel
The A-4N was first flown from Palmdale, California on 8 June 1972, piloted by McDonnell Douglas Experimental Test Pilot John P. Lane. The Israeli test pilot being Yachin Kochva.
While some sources give the number of A-4N delivered to Israel as 129, it is generally accepted, that in total 117 aircraft saw their way to the Israeli Air Force:

BuAerNo.158726 - 158743 with c/n 14345 - 14362 (18 aircraft)
BuAerNo.159035 - 159052 with c/n 14363 - 14380 (18 aircraft)
BuAerNo.159075 - 159098 with c/n 14381 - 14404 (24 aircraft)
BuAerNo.159515 - 159545 with c/n 14435 - 14465 (31 aircraft)
BuAerNo.159799 - 159824 with c/n 14498 - 14523 (26 aircraft)

The aircraft were built and delivered between 1972 and 1976. The first new A-4Ns arrived in January 1973, with the first aircraft equipping No.115 ‘The Flying Dragon Squadron’ at Tel Nof Air Base.
The baptisme of fire for the newly arrived Skyhawks came within months, with the Yom Kippur War starting on the 6th of October 1973. Until the end of hostilities (on the 25th of October) seven A-4Ns of No.115 Squadron were lost with 2 pilots becoming prisoners of war, one pilot listed as ‘missining in action’ and 4 pilots as ‘killed in action’. One of the aircraft lost, and her pilot, Major Itzhak Ofer, killed, on 11 October was ‘322’ (BuAerNo.158726) over the Golan Heights. In 20 days of combat The Israeli Air Force approximately lost 112 fighter aircraft, with one-half of all losses occurring in the first three days of the war. It is generally accepted that 53 to 55 Israeli Skyhawks (A-4E, F, H and N) were lost in the Yom Kippur War. A significant number of the losses were caused by SAMs, including the infrared-guided SA-7 Grail. The SAM- threat resulted in an ad-hoc modification, known as the ‘Chavit’ (Barrel) to reduce the infrared signature of the aircraft. A trial installation had been fitted to an A-4N by No.22 Air Maintenance Unit at Tel Nof. After some test flights, the first aircraft to be fitted with the modification was flown to the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) works at Lod Airport on 20 October 1973. With ‘the barrel’ fitted overnight, the aircraft returned to 115 Squadron next morning. The Chavit jet pipe extension modification increased the overall length of the A-4N increased with 10.6 inches (27 centimetres) to 41 ft 2.5 inches (12,56 metres). Not only allowed the Chavit the jet exhaust to cool, it also placed the heat plume as seen by the missile seeker further behind the main airframe structure. If a infrared missile did explode in the heat plume, it was likely to be further behind the aircraft where shrapnel of proximity-fused warheads could do less damage to vital parts such as the tail control surfaces.

Other war action for the Ayit followed in 1978 in Southern Lebanon. In 1978 a new Skyhawk unit was activated: No.147 Squadron, ‘The Flying Ibex’ at Hatzerim AB, with A-4E, F and N. However, from 1984 the Skyhawk Force started to reduce, with 110 Squadron (‘The Knights of the North') flying the A-4E and H, converting to the F-16A, while No.149 Squadron went on as a Kfir unit. The last major conflict in which Skyhawks saw action was from June 1982 in ‘Operation Peace for Galilee’, although from July 2006, in a second Lebanese War, A-4s were employed, this time mainly TA-4s for night-illumination and electronic support.

Early in the new millenium an upgrade programme for the circa 50 remaining A-4Ns and TA-4Js got underway, centered around the RADA Electronic Industries Ltd Autonomous Combat Evaluation (ACE) system to replace the outdated EHUD and Chrystal systems. From 2002 the ACE-II system was installed by Israel Aircraft Industries, with the first modified aircraft, IDF/AF ‘342’ (ex BuAerNo.159808), flying in December 2004 and handed over to the Air Force on 3 March 2005. The modified aircraft became known as AyitM (M for Meshopar or ‘Improved’). At the time it was envisaged for the Ayit to remain in service until 2015-2020, but the type was eventually retired on 15 May 2015.
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • First Flight: 8 June 1972
  • Initial Service Date: November 1972
  • No. Built: 117
  • No. In Service: 0
  • No. of Hardpoints: 5
  • Crew: 1

Power:

1 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P408A turbojet at 49.82 kN

Weapons:

Two 30mm (1.18 inch) DEFA cannon, with 150 rounds each.

The five hardpoints had a total capacity for 6,750 lbs (3,028 kg) of ordnance or stores: the centreline station 3,500 lbs (1,558 kg); two wing inboard stations: 2,250 lbs (1,020 kg); two wing outboard stations: 1,000 lbs (450 kg).

Air-to-air missiles:
Four AIM-9B and D Sidewinders at a later stage supplemented or replaced by four Shafrir II short-range infrared AAMs, produced by RAFAEL Defense Systems, Israel. Usually only one missile (on the outboard station) was carried to enable the aircraft to carry the maximum offensive ordnance possible.

Rockets:
Up to four LAU-10 rocket pods, each with four 127 mm (5 inch) Mk.32 Zuni rockets.

Air-to-surface missiles:
Two Martin Marietta AGM-12 Bullpup stand-off suppression missiles or
two Texas Instruments AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles or
two Hughes AGM-65 Mavericks ASMs or
two IAI Gabriel III radar-guided ASMs.

Bombs:
Two Martin Marietta AGM-62 Walleye unpowered TV-guided glide bombs, usually fitted with a 113 kg high-explosive warhead or two 2,000 lbs Rockwell International GBU-8 Hobo TV-guided glide bombs.
Up to six Rockeye II Mk.20 Cluster Bomb Units, with three on a Triple Ejector Rack (TER) on the centreline station and two on the inner wing stations being a commonly used combination. Instead of the Mk.20 up to six Rockeye Mk.7/APAM-59 CBUs could be carried.

The Mk.80 series of guided and unguided bombs, for example a combination of six 500 lbs Mk.82 on a Multiple Ejector Rack (MER) on the centreline station, with four on a MER on the inboard wing station and two on the outboard wing station.

AN/ABS-19 ARBS-equipped A-4Ns could carry Paveway I and II and the indigenous IAI Griffin series of Laser-guided Munitions.

External fuel:
On the centreline station a 400 US Gallon (1,515 litres/2,680 lbs) drop tank could be carried, the inboard wing stations had capacity to carry a 300 US Gallon (1,136 litres/2,010 lbs) or a 150 US Gallon (568 litres/1,005 lbs) tank.

Dimensions:

Length: 12.29 m.
Wing Span: 8.38 m.
Wing Area: 24.16 m²
Height: 4.57 m.
Empty Weight: 5,537 kg.
Max. Weight: 11,136 kg.
Max. Ordnance Load: 3,028 kg.

Performance:

Max. Speed: 1,038 kph
Service Ceiling: 12,880 m.
Max. Range: 3,782 km

Operators:

Canada
Canadian company Top Aces (earlier known as Discovery Air Defense Services) currently has seven former Israeli Air Force A-4N Skyhawks deployed to Germany under contract of the Bundeswehr to provide high speed adversary air training services. Based at Wittmundhafen Air Base in East-Friesland, the aircraft, together with the Top Aces Alpha Jets, are temporarily operating out of Nordholz, while construction work at Wittmund is underway. It is expected that Top Aces will return to Wittmund in 2025.

Top Aces A-4N Skyhawk fleet:

337
C-FGZS; c/n 14349; sequence no. 14337; BuAerNo. 158730; IDF/AF ‘321’; also reported as ‘260’.

367
C-FGZD; c/n 14379; sequence no. 14367; BuAerNo.159051; IDF/AF ?

495
C-FGZE ; c/n 14522; sequence no. 14495; BuAerNo.159823; IDF/AF ?

531
C-FGZI; c/n 14453; sequence no. 14531; BuAerNo.159533; IDF/AF ‘413’.

532
C-FGZO; c/n 14454; sequence no. 14532; BuAerNo.159534; IDF/AF ?

534
C-FGZH; c/n 14456; sequence no. 14534; BuAerNo.159536; IDF/AF '415'.

542
C-FGZT; c/n 14464; sequence no. 14542; BuAerNo.159544; IDF/AF ‘438’?

For completeness, Top Aces at Wittmundhafen/Nordholz operate one ex US NAVY/ex IDF/AF TA-4J Skyhawk:

499
C-FGWT; c/n 13499; BuAerNo.152853; IDF/AF ‘748’; ‘250’?

In the table above from left to right:
Canadian civilian registration; McDonnell Douglas construction number; sequence number; IDF/AF identification number, commonly painted on the nose or on the fin.



Israel
The Israeli Air Force received 117 A-4N Skyhawks between 1972 and 1976, with the first aircraft (BuAerNo.158726) flying on 8 June 1972. It was noted at Palmdale, California, with "Skyhawk II" titles in black on both sides of the fuselage and the number '726' in Israeli style on both sides of the lower vertical fin. After shipment to Israel the aircraft became 2322 '322' in IDF/AF service and delivered to 115 Squadron at Tel Nof Air Base. The aircraft was lost in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

IDF/AF units flying the A-4N Ayit:

No.115 'The Golden Dragon' Squadron at Tel Nof Air Base was the first unit to receive the A-4N in 1973. The squadron relocated to Nevatim AB in 1994.

No.116 'The Flying Wing' Squadron at Tel Nof AB received their A-4Ns in 1973. The squadron relocated to Nevatim AM in 1983. In November 1985, the squadron replaced No.140 Squadron as the A-4N OCU. Now known as 'The Lions of the South' Squadron, de unit operates the F-35 and is based at Nevatim AB.

No.140 'The Golden Eagle' Squadron was activated at Etszion AB in 1973, becoming the first Operational Training Unit for the A-4N, before relocating to Ramon AB in 1984. In November 1985, the OTU task was transferred to No.116 Squadron. No.140 Squadron now operates the F-35 out of Nevatim AB.

No.147 'The Flying Ibex' Squadron operated a mix of A-4E, F and H Skyhawks as well as the A-4N from Hatzerim AB. In 1981 the squadron became a reserve unit and was disbanded in 1986. The squadron was also referred to as 'The Goring Ram' and 'Goring Deer' Squadron.

No.149 'The Smashing Parrot' Squadron at Etszion AB operated the A-4E and A-4N from 1976 until late 1981.

No.102 'The Flying Tiger' Squadron received their first A-4N in 1986 at Hatzor AB and relocated to Hatzerim in 1986.

The IDF/AF Flying School's Advanced Training Squadron at Hatzerim AB received the A-4N in 1990.

It is thought, that in the 1980s and 90s the IDF/AF had three reserve squadrons (Nos. 137, 145 and 202) equipped with A-4s, most likely also including A-4Ns.



USA
In 2000 and 2001, the Israeli government sold seventeen surplus Skyhawks to the Mesa, Arizona-based company Advanced Training Systems International (ATSI). Ten A-4Ns and three TA-4Js joined the FAA-register for defence contract work in the US, while four A-4Ns were prepared for onward sale to BAE Systems Inc. Flight Systems Division at Mojave, California. These four aircraft deployed to Germany for use as target tugs at Wittmundhafen Air Base in East-Friesland.


Advanced Training Systems International Inc. (ATSI) A-4N Skyhawks:

IDF/AF ‘321’
Ex BuAerNo. 158730 (c/n 14349); Registered N260WL on 4 June 2001.

IDF/AF ‘413’, but ‘261’ has also been quoted.
Ex BuAerNo. 159533 (c/n 14453); Registered N261WL on 4 June 2001.
Registered C-FGZI for Discovery Air on 17 December 2014. Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

IDF/AF ‘444’
Ex BuAerNo. 159545 (c/n 14465); Registered N262WL on 4 June 2001.

IDF/AF ‘344’
Ex BuAerNo. 159523 (c/n 14443); Registered N263WL on 4 June 2001.
Crashed into the Great Salt Lake, Utah, on 10 May 2003, as a result of a bird-strike. The pilot was killed.

IDF/AF ‘?’
Ex BuAerNo. 159823 (c/n 14522); Registered N264WL on 19 December 2001.
Registered C-FGZE on 21 October 2014 for Discovery Air. Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

IDF/AF ‘?’
Ex BuAerNo. 159544 (c/n 14464); Registered N265WL on 19 December 2001.
Registered C-FGZT for Discovery Air on 8 July 2015. Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

IDF/AF ‘?’
Ex BuAerNo. 159534 (c/n 14454); Registered N266WL on 19 December 2001.
Registered C-FGZO for Discovery Air on 20 February 2015. Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

IDF/AF ‘?’
Ex BuAerNo. 159051 (c/n 14379); Registered N267WL on 28 May 2002.
Registered C-FGZD for Discovery Air on 31 October 2014. Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

IDF/AF ‘395’
Ex BuAerNo. 159530 (c/n 14450); Registered N268WL on 28 May 2002.
Sold to BAE Flight Systems still registered N268WL; Delivered to Wittmundhafen on 21 May 2007.
Sold to Draken International on 7 January 2015. The aircraft was reregistered on 27 June 2019 as N167EM.

IDF/AF ‘415’
Ex BuAerNo. 159536 (c/n 14456); Registered N269WL on 28 May 2002. Leased to AVDEF France and temporarily registered there as F-ZVMD.
The aircraft returned to the US in 2009 and was subsequently sold to Discovery Air in Canada and registered C-FGZH on 16 December 2014.
Currently based at Nordholz, Germany.



BAE Flight Systems detachment at Wittmundhafen.
BAE Systems Inc. Flight Systems Division at Mojave, California obtained four ATSI Skyhawks to be deployed to Germany for use as target tugs at Wittmundhafen Air Base in East-Friesland. The aircraft were flown to Germany in September 2001. All four machines returned to the US in December 2014 after the contract came to an end.

IDF/AF ‘305’
Ex BuAerNo.159805 (c/n 14504) was registered N431FS on 20 September 2001. Sold to Draken International in 2019 and became N161EM.

IDF/AF ‘335’
Ex BuAerNo.159542 (c/n 14462), registered N432FS. Sold to Draken International in 2019 (registered N162EM).

IDF/AF ‘373’
Ex BuAerNo.159815 (c/n 14514), registered N434FS on 20 September 2001. Sold to Draken International in 2019 (N163EM).

IDF/AF ‘355’ ?
Ex BuAerNo.159078 (c/n 14384), registered N437FS on 20 September 2001. Sold to Draken International in 2019 (N164EM).




On 12 December 2014, Draken International LLC at Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport, Florida, obtained the four Wittmundhafen-based A-4N aircraft from BAE Flight Systems:

IDF/AF ‘305’
Ex BuAerNo.159805 (c/n 14504) and N431FS was registered N161EM on 27 June 2019.

IDF/AF ‘335’
Ex BuAerNo.159542 (c/n 14462) and N432FS was registered N162EM on 27 June 2019.

IDF/AF ‘373’
Ex BuAerNo.159815 (c/n 14514) and N434FS was registered N163EM on 27 June 2019.

IDF/AF ‘355’ ?
Ex BuAerNo.159078 (c/n 14384) and N437FS was registered N164EM on 27 June 2019.

The company further acquired two former IDF/AF Skyhawks ‘444’ (ex BuAerNo. 159545 with c/n 14465) and ‘395’ (ex BuAerNo. 159530, c/n 14450) from ATSI, where they had been registered as N262WL and N668WL, respectively becoming N166EM and N167EM on 7 January 2015. Both aircraft were detached to the French company Secapem Defence Training Solutions based at Nîmes-Garons AB, providing ‘Red Air’ aggressor training for the French navy, arriving at the French base on 6 August 2015.
Earlier another former IDF/AF A-4N Skyhawk had been used at Nîmes fo this type of training: this was ‘415’ (ex BuAerNo.159536, c/n 14456) of the American ATSI company and registered N269WL. The A-4 was leased to the French Aviation Defence Services (AVDEF) and registered F-ZVDM for the duration of the contract. The aircraft was reregistered N269WL on 1 September 2009 until this registration was cancelled on 12 December 2014. The Skyhawk was registered C-FGZH on 16 December 2014 for Canadian Top Aces and is currently based at Nordholz, Germany.

The Draken company also operates eight former Royal New Zealand Air Force Skyhawks. The 6 A-4K and two TA-4K aircraft were obtained in 2012.

Random great photos of the Douglas A-4N Skyhawk:

Photo ID 242092 by Frank Kloppenburg. Company Owned Top Aces ATSI Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, C FGZD
Photo ID 94806 by Jan Eenling. Company Owned BAE Systems Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, N431FS
Photo ID 264455 by rinze de vries. Company Owned Top Aces ATSI Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, C FGZT
Photo ID 73097 by Andreas Zeitler - Flying-Wings. Israel Air Force Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, 303
Photo ID 120047 by Tim Van den Boer. Company Owned BAE Systems Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, N268WL
Photo ID 170593 by Kenny Peeters. Company Owned Discovery Air Defence Services Douglas A 4N Skyhawk, C FGZS
More photos »