F-16 A/B MLU fighter jet deal for Argentina gradually freezes
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — A supposed deal between Denmark and Argentina with the blessing of the US and Britain is gradually freezing up. On March 14, Argentina announced its interest in purchasing the Chinese JF-17 fighter jet. The news was reported by Chinese state media, citing a statement on the official page of Argentina’s embassy in China.
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According to the publication, the Ambassador of Argentina, Mr. Sabino Vaca Narvaja, held a meeting with the Argentine Minister of Defense, Mr. Jorge Taiana. The meeting took place in Buenos Aires, and the strengthening of Argentine-Chinese relations in the field of defense was discussed. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Beijing continues to support Buenos Aires regarding “Argentina’s justified claim to exercise full sovereignty over the islands.”
Washington is waiting for London
News of Argentina’s renewed interest in the JF-17 comes as Buenos Aires announced nearly a month ago that it had more pressing costs than buying new fighter jets. Argentina wants to buy new fighter jets. The possible purchase of F-16 A/B MLU fighter jets from Denmark does not meet this desire, as they are second-hand. BulgarianMilitary.com reported in recent months that Argentina not only met with the Chinese JF-17 manufacturers in China but held a similar meeting with Danish government officials and manufacturers from Lockheed Martin.
A meeting between Argentine politicians on strengthening bilateral defense relations with China could seriously damage the US desire to sell the Danish fighter jets. Washington continues to wait for a decision from London to negotiate with Argentina, but there is none. It is said that the pressure on London is not great, and political circles in Washington united around the idea of “gauchos” flying American fighter jets are calling on the White House administration to increase the pressure on London.
What does Argentina want?
On the other hand, Buenos Aires is trying not to fall into the trap set by the United Kingdom. If at some point London allows, and Argentina gets the F-16, it could damage the political position on the disputed status of the Falkland Islands. At the same time, Buenos Aires realizes that the acquisition of the F-16 means a serious dependence on maintaining the technical condition, serviceability, and combat capability of its F-16 fleet in Washington and London. Something that is not liked in Argentina.
London was in an advantageous position until a year ago. It then emerged that Britain could block a possible JF-17 sale to Argentina. The reason: JF-17s use British-made ejection seats. However, it turned out that this was at the request of one of the customers of the Chinese fighter – Pakistan. However, China has assured Argentina that it will integrate locally produced ejection seats that are used in other Chinese fighter jets. London thus lost its advantage, realizing that Beijing could bypass the British ban.
With each passing day and silence from London, the chance of F-16s flying over Argentine skies is evaporating. Especially in light of China’s desire to build a JF-17 plant in Argentina. If this happens, such a deal will be considered a blow to the image of the US in Latin America. China will increase its influence in the region, and Argentina will not only get a new fleet but also the opportunity to sell Chinese fighters in the region. A place where there are quite a few customers who would like to acquire the Chinese fighter.
MiG-35 was an option
Earlier, when Buenos Aires was in the initial initiative to the Chinese and American fighters, the Russian MiG-35 was combed as a possible supplier. At that time, nearly a year and a half ago, even the Russian MiG was considered a favorite. But the war in Ukraine not only does not guarantee timely production and delivery to Argentina but threatens the gauchos with severe economic sanctions under the US CAATSA law.
Experts believe that if Buenos Aires acquires the Chinese JF-17, there will also be sanctions, but they will be much more moderate and acceptable than in the case of the purchase of the Russian fighter.
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