Argentine Minister of Defence Julio Martinez announced that the Argentine government has suspended plans for new fighter aircraft to replace the Argentine Air Force’s legacy Lockheed Martin A-4ARs, IHS Jane’s reports. Argentina’s strenuous economic problems were cited as the cause.
In its pursuit for new fighter aircraft, Argentina cast a wide net, examining a range of Western and Eastern solutions. Among them was the JF-17, which is co-produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) and the Saab JAS-39 Gripen.
Those avenues did not come to fruition, but Argentina and Israel opened negotiations for the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir Block-60. Talks froze and resumed intermittently. In January, reports had emerged that Buenos Aires resumed talks with Tel Aviv for 12-14 IAI Kfir Block-60.
At the end of last month, the Latin American defence publication Defensa reported that Buenos Aires was interested in the Mikoyan MiG-29 and sought 15 fighters from Moscow. During the launch of the MiG-35, the deputy director of Russia’s State Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Anatoly Pinchuk said Moscow will respond with an offer.
Notes & Comments:
At the minimum, the Argentine government’s decision puts a dampener on short-term fighter acquisition, effectively ruling out second-hand or surplus options (unless they are markedly affordable). However, it would be interesting if Buenos Aires could undertake long-term recapitalization, perhaps through a program that is staged several years into the future.
For example, it could tentatively commit to a squadron of new-built MiG-29M/M2 or even MiG-35s from Russia, but with a later production date that is activated once cash is provided (or when Moscow can provide a loan). It is a precarious situation for the Argentine Air Force, one that seems to be worse than previously assumed considering the difficulty it is having procuring surplus fighters.