Official: Argentina bought F-16s, marking the next renewal phase

Today, the Danish Ministry of Defense’s official website announced a landmark signing, cementing the deal for Danish F-16 multirole fighter jets to be sold to Argentina. The signing took place at the Skrydstrup Air Force Base in Denmark, attended by Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen and Argentine Minister of Defense Luis Alfonso Petri. 

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Poulsen lavished praise on the F-16s, stating that these fighter jets, meticulously maintained and technically modernized over the years, have served Denmark exceptionally well. With this sale, Argentina now becomes a valued member of the international F-16 community. 

In addition, the Danish Ministry of Defense acknowledges the pivotal role played by the U.S. government in facilitating this transaction through their approval. It’s worth noting that as mentioned earlier, the U.S. also provided Argentina with a loan to subsidize the purchase of the Danish F-16s, alongside the required missiles. The deal comprises an impressive total of 24 aircraft.

Argentina procures 24 used European F-16A/B MLUs with AIM missiles
Photo credit: NATO

Additional equipment

According to several reports, Argentina is scheduled to receive “an assortment of materials-filled containers” alongside the aircraft. These materials are expected to assist the Air Force in reconfiguring its infrastructure to accommodate the new fighter jets, while also ensuring sustainable operation and maintenance locally. Moreover, these fighter jets are likely to be equipped with an extensive array of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, thus enhancing the infrastructure of the F-16 host airbase in Argentina. 

The Danish F-16AMs—variants of the original F-16—boast significant differences that distinguish them from the initial prototype. Among the most prominent modifications executed from the late 1990s to early 2000s is the Mid-Life Update [MLU]. The primary objective of this update was to incorporate cutting-edge technology and systems, effectively extending the operational lifespan and improving the overall performance of these aircraft.

At Mach 1.9, the F-16 rapidly reduces speed and quivers - US pilot
Photo credit: Twitter

The Danish F-16s

The MLU introduced a highly advanced modular mission computer that significantly increased its processing capacity, allowing it to accept more intricate avionics and weapons systems. The computer is conveniently upgradeable, ensuring that the aircraft keeps pace with emerging technology trends. 

In addition to computer enhancements, the MLU integrated improvements into the radar system. The Danish F-16AMs are equipped with the AN/APG-66(V)2 radar, which boasts significant advancements in range, resolution, and reliability when compared with its predecessor. This radar can concurrently track and engage multiple targets and also offers ground mapping and weather detection.  

Poland has sent F-16C/Ds against a Russian 'violator' missile
Photo by Gerard van der Schaaf / Wkimedia

One of the standout features of the Danish F-16AMs is their sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities. These include the ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures pod, which is capable of detecting and disrupting enemy radar signals. It is paired with the ALR-69 radar warning receiver, which alerts the pilot to incoming radar-guided threats.  

Lastly, the Danish F-16AMs are equipped with conformal fuel tanks. Installed on the sides of the aircraft, these tanks increase the F-16AM’s fuel capacity without significantly affecting its aerodynamics. This means that the aircraft can undertake longer-range missions and remain operational for extended periods, thereby enhancing its operational versatility.

What does Argentina have at the moment?

Argentina retired Super Etendard jets that sank two UK warships
Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

The Argentine Air Force boasts an impressive array of aircraft. At its heart is the A-4AR Fightinghawk. This upgraded variant of the A-4 Skyhawk was initially designed as a single-seat, subsonic, carrier-based aircraft for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. 

The IA 58 Pucará holds firm in the Argentine air squadron. Hailing from the Argentine firm, Fábrica Militar de Aviones [FMA], it is a ground-attack and counter-insurgency [COIN] turboprop aircraft that has served the skies since the 70s. The Dassault Mirage III stands proudly in its fleet. Born from the French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, this blazing masterpiece was the first-ever Western European fighter aircraft capable of reaching Mach 2 speed in horizontal flight. 

Additionally, their aerial arsenal includes the robust Dassault Mirage 5; a supersonic attack aircraft forged in the 1960s by Dassault Aviation of France. Its legacy permeates many corners of the world, having been manufactured both domestically and overseas. Rounding up the Argentine Air Force’s formidable lineup is the FMA IA 63 Pampa.

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