Argentina inspects and evaluates F-16s for possible purchase

COPENHAGEN ($1=7.15 Danish Kroners) — closely follows the attempts of the Argentine Air Force to improve its combat capabilities by acquiring new fighters. Several offers have appeared on the Argentine market in recent months. The Indian HAL Tejas, the Chinese JF-17, and the Russian MiG-35.

32 retired F-16 Fighter Falcons found a new operator in the Balkans
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Combat aircraft in Argentine aviation are few, outdated, and do not meet modern requirements. Argentina currently has 30 active combat aircraft – seven locally produced IA 63 Pampa and 23 American Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The first is a product of the late 1980s, and the second is even older – from the 1950s.

Arguably, until the end of the 20th century, Argentinian fighter aircraft met the requirements of the time. Not today though. Today, Argentina needs fighter jets with improved avionics, radars, weapons, and speed. But the “gauchos” have a problem and it’s called Great Britain. London imposed an arms embargo on Argentina after the Falklands War in 1982. The ten-week war had a serious impact on Argentina’s armaments. The veto of the British affected not only the aviation but also the land and naval forces of Argentina.

Argentina is now ready to buy planes. We mentioned above what the options are. In recent months, experts have claimed that the MiG-35 is no longer on the list of Argentines. The war in Ukraine turned down quite a few potential purchases of Russian arms. But even if it wasn’t for the war in Ukraine, the US would not have approved the purchase of the MiG-35. All it took was a request from London and the imposition of economic sanctions under the CAATSA law, and Buenos Aires would have said goodbye to the Russian planes.

The situation is the same with the JF-17. Chinese technology in North America is not well received by Washington. Although, the JF-17 could have been stopped as a deal direct from London, as the pilot seats were manufactured by a British firm. However, this was an opportunity that China would bypass and offer its own seats for the Argentine planes.

Russia 'shots' its most advanced fighter - the MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
Photo credit:

Therefore, London has apparently given the green light [unofficially] to Washington to allow Argentina a possible purchase of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Why else would aviation and air force experts from the Argentine Ministry of Defense be in Denmark to evaluate the Danish F-16s? Yes exactly.

Sources in the Argentine MoD say that Argentina has postponed the re-evaluation of Indian HAL Tejas fighter jets, which was the original plan. The delegation went to Denmark to evaluate “second-hand” fighters of the Danish Air Force. The F-16s are American-made, and in truth, Buenos Aires has repeatedly expressed a desire to acquire them.

Argentina has not yet said how far along in the bidding the three main players – Denmark, India, and China – are. But it has officially confirmed that all three countries are participating in the tender for a new fighter for the Argentine Air Force. This information was released not by anyone, but by the Director of Plans, Programs, and Budget of the Argentine Air Force, Brigadier General Diego Garcia.

Pakistani JF-17A defeated MiG-35 in a passionate 'Argentine tango'
Photo credit: Twitter

An Argentine delegation to Denmark and the postponement of the re-examination of the Indian fighter jets said that Argentina could take the Tejas “out of the game”. However, let us recall – Argentinian experts were in India in August to carry out an initial assessment of the Indian fighter. The reviews were very good and Tejas was expected to take the lead in the race.

However, the “extraordinary” visit to Denmark was organized by the British-American political lobbies, sources say. This is not good for India because the “gauchos” will be influenced.

If Argentina prefers Tejas, it will be a problem for Great Britain. London would then have no control over future aircraft upgrades and deliveries. Not just a loss of control, it seems, but a loss of influence and money.

Pressuring Argentina to buy F-16s from another country means Britain selling spares, upgrading, supplies, training, etc, which is paid for. But, the hidden reason may turn out to be completely different – the F-16 in Argentina means that if the “Argentinians are obedient and good” they will get the necessary equipment now and in the future. And if you think this is a conspiracy theory, just remember the case of Turkey and how the US reacted to their purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Argentina has earmarked US$700 million for new fighter jets. This will be a significant purchase for the local population, which is generally reluctant to spend a lot of money on military equipment, precisely because of the Falklands War.

Thorny path: Tejas Mk2 fighter will be liked but no one will buy it at first
Photo credit: Wikipedia

But the choice for a new fighter will be delayed, say political scientists. The reason: elections are coming up in the country in 2023. Where and how he will take charge of Argentina is not known. There is inflation in the country, Argentine peso assets are being sold off, and the interest rate hovers around 52%.

The Indian Tejas and the Chinese-made JF-17 are considered the best options for the South American country. So say the experts. But will inflation, the upcoming elections, the cheap peso, and second-hand planes not find a compromise solution so that the country’s economy does not suffer? It remains to be seen, but it seems like Tejas is gradually getting out of the game. So, pity.


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