The telenovela “Fighters for Argentina” continues. There is one country in the world that is capable of long procedures for the purchase of weapons. This is India. However, the acquisition of fighter jets by Buenos Aires can be described as a “Latin soap opera”.
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The latest information is that Argentina is waiting for an offer from the US for the purchase of second-hand F-16 fighters. This was officially announced again this week by the Chief of Staff of the Argentine Air Force [Fuerza Aérea Argentina or FAA], Brigadier General Xavier Julián Isaac.
Argentina is expected to acquire the Danish F-16s. Denmark is replacing its combat aircraft, giving priority to US F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. And if Buenos Aires’ interest in the F-16 cooled a year ago, now the “gauchos” show a renewed desire to buy the Danish F-16s.
London is influencing
But Britain is not happy. Pushed into a corner, the island kingdom will have to deal with the possible purchase of F-16s from Argentina. Otherwise, China risks establishing permanent positions in Latin America, by not only selling the JF-17 Thunder but also building a plant in Argentina.
There are claims that London is influencing Washington about this sale. Ultimately, Britain will most likely agree to it, but sources say London does not want Israeli weapons integrated on board and under the wings of Argentina’s F-16s. London also does not want AMRAAM missiles under the wings of the “blue and white” F-16s. It is for this reason that Washington is trying to find a way out of the situation and is delaying the offer to Buenos Aires. This offer is awaited by General Isaac.
According to a Defense News analysis conducted after an interview with an Argentine Air Force official, Buenos Aires was not enamored with the first F-16 bid. It did not include the very weapons that Argentina wants to get. “The initial conditions in the draft agreement turned out to be quite limited,” says Argentina.
To make it even more dramatic, the “Latin soap opera” clearly lacks communication or at least unanimity on the issue between the President of the Republic, Alberto Fernandez, and the army. Because Mr. Fernandez only three months ago officially said that “Argentina should direct its resources to more important things than buying military planes.”
Buenos Aires has set aside about $700 million to upgrade the FAA’s inventory. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Argentina is struggling with a permanent financial crisis. Such a purchase would put the state through the threat of bankruptcy.
“We lack a concrete proposal from the US for the F-16,” General Isaac explained. “We know in general its content, but it must be specified on paper. The US told us that they have many things that they can supply us, but they have not yet finalized the offer,” added the Argentine general.
Another weapon integration
Only when FAA Command receives the bid in writing will it be able to submit it to the Department of Defense for further development? It is unofficially known that there was a long time ago a specific offer from the Chinese with their JF-17/FC-1, but apparently, Buenos Aires is no longer interested in it.
Such a statement tells us that Britain is apparently resigned to the sale of F-16s to Argentina. Washington most likely coordinated its actions with the British but failed to do the same regarding armaments. Because if Argentina does not acquire the planes with the armament included in them, it risks paying a lot more money for such from other suppliers. This will most likely also cost money to integrate “non-American or non-Israeli” weapons under the fighter wings.
Of course, such an integration is possible. We see what is happening in Ukraine. Poland specializes in integrating Western missiles under the wings of Ukrainian MiG-29s. HARM is the most recent example. However, Argentina will hold on to a full set of supplies.
Denmark has 33 operationally ready F-16As. Argentina wants them. The F-16A is a single-seat fighter. They are equipped with AN/APG-66 radar, which is a pulse-Doppler type. The F-16A’s powerplant is a Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan rated at 14,670 lbf [64.9 kN] and 23,830 lbf [106.0 kN] with an afterburner. Very often the F-16A is equipped with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AN/ALQ-131 ECM canister, and external fuel tanks.
Last year, a delegation from the FAA visited Denmark to get a first-hand look at fighter jets and learn first-hand what their daily service looks like. The conclusions were positive, but, like the American bid, they were only preliminary.
Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world [nine times larger than Poland]. Effective protection of the airspace over such a vast part of the globe requires both a network of radar stations and fighter jets capable of exceeding the speed of sound so that they can quickly catch up with intruders [who in Argentine conditions would be mainly smugglers]. At the moment, the Argentinians have neither.
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