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Argentina renews talks with Tel Aviv for IAI Kfir Block-60

Flight Global reports that Argentina has resumed negotiations with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for 12-14 Kfir Block-60 multi-role fighter aircraft. Price is still the main obstacle ahead of an inked contract.

The IAI Kfir Block-60 is a refurbished and heavily upgraded variant of the Kfir, an Israeli-built variant of the Dassault Mirage 5. The Kfir Block-60 is equipped with the Elta Systems EL/M-2052 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar. It will also be compatible with Rafael’s range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, as well as the LITENING advanced targeting pod.

Notes & Comments:

While an aged platform, the Kfir Block-60’s inclusion of new and contemporary sub-systems, such as the EL/M-2052 AESA radar, position it as a modern air warfare factor. Besides the AESA radar, it will be worth observing if other Israeli sub-systems, such as the Elta DASH helmet-mounted display and sight system and Rafael Python 5 high off-boresight air-to-air missile, are also on the Argentine Air Force’s procurement plans. Collectively, Israel’s catalogue of subsystems would offer a concentrated qualitative package.

Argentina had pursued several options for new fighter aircraft to replace its aging Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs, including Saab and The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). However, costs and supplier side issues, such as the Saab Gripen’s dependence on British components, heavily limited the set of options available to Argentina for its fighter modernization requirements. China was among those competitors, and Pakistan hoped to secure a sale for the JF-17 Thunder in Argentina.

Evidently, that sale did not come to fruition, but the advantage of lower costs will continually remain in AVIC and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)’s hands. It is possible that Argentina’s experience with Western electronic sub-systems and munitions had tilted Argentina to the Kfir. PAC has yet to showcase a ‘Westernized’ JF-17, but the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s JF-17 Block-II is beginning to emerge as more of a bespoke solution, especially with the inclusion of the Aselsan ASELPOD advanced targeting pod.

Renewal in seriousness on Argentina’s part, which could be possible if disagreements prevail in the Kfir Block-60 purchase, could serve as incentive for PAC to engage with Leonardo, Elettronica, MBDA, Denel, and/or Aselsan to produce a bespoke ‘Westernized’ variant. However, China’s breadth of munitions and subsystem options cannot be understated, especially in terms of stand-off range air-to-surface munitions, which Argentina cannot readily procure from traditional Western suppliers. China can also, theoretically, offer credit to help finance the sale of Chinese aircraft.

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  • by Halz
    Posted January 9, 2017 6:46 am 0Likes

    The Chinese bowed to British pressure and refused to sell anti ship missiles if Argentina went ahead with the purchase of the JF-17. That pretty much sank any chance the Argentinians would have gone for the JF-17.

  • by Steve
    Posted January 9, 2017 7:35 am 0Likes

    Chairman PAC should be in Buenos Aries negotiating. Block III thunder is a lot better than Kfir which is a platform from the 60’s. We should be able to add Western bells and whistles from Italy as needed. This is a good sale and deserves to be pursed vigorously. British opposition to a sale of advanced western systems should work in our favour.

  • by SP
    Posted January 9, 2017 11:29 am 0Likes

    Therw is nothing wrong with Chinese subsystems and they are improving by great leaps. It is ok to not get every sale. It is ok to lose sales due to political reasons. But if sales are lost due to quality of the product or the price then PAC needs to revaluate its offering against those of the competition. It may be useful to do a competitor analysis to further improve JF-17.

  • by Steve
    Posted January 9, 2017 3:13 pm 0Likes

    But Kfir! It’s same as Mirage 5. I doubt Israel has any new built ones, probably old stored junk. The Argentines don’t need antiship as they have no chance of fighting the British whatsoever. The British have based hardly any warships but have Eurofighters in the Falklands. Block III won’t help them. This is not 1982 and Argentines now have crumbling forces. They are probably looking to have an air force of sorts. Israel won’t sell any anti ship missiles either. We could sell the platform and they could get Brazilian anti ship missiles like MAN-SUP if they are that desperate. Sales take years to finalise and Block III is going to happen. We are not defying the British unless they explicitly asked us not to sell, and that’s a vote of confidence in JF17! We don’t know what happens behind closed doors. I just hope we have spoken to all concerned and there must be reasons, almost certainly not qualitative if they want Kfir. BTW after March British can’t do a thing about European customs as they are starting Brexit, but we do take a lot of aid.

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted January 9, 2017 6:56 pm 0Likes

    Kfir were all stored so no age on frame and hey aren’t we still using our old mirage 3 and 5s and they were retired by Australia after frame were aged according to them let’s not be disingenuous here.

    they are more newer than our mirage fleet an equipped with far superior Israeli radar and EW tech which we can only hope for on JF 17 block 3 if Chinese come through as I see slim chance of any western vendor as the days are passing and western defense vendors avoid Chinese like the plague for the reason you know too.

    Also it will be our responsibility as a vendor or Chinese responsibility at Chengdu facility to pair any AsHM with jf 17s radar.

    Israeli haven’t denied not selling them AsHM and are more than willing to mate any if they want so they are past any British objection at this point since they are actively trying to fund the deal too with generous credit line.

    Nobody knows what happened with Argentina as the talks of buying the jf17 first rose from Chinese source it was part of the the huge trade deals between Argentina and china since then Chinese have backed out and no word from any part I guess it’s case closed for Pakistan as well.

    Also JF17 maybe superior airframe but with Israeli AESA radar and EW I can bet you it will be superior than the JF17 block 3 especially if paired with Israeli BVRs too don’t forget JF17 was always a replacement to obsolete F7s and old mirages nothing more and nothing less our next platform will be our Trump card not this one.

  • by GhalibKabir
    Posted January 10, 2017 3:09 am 0Likes

    There might be valid reasons for a hardware to be called outdated…however given specific threat environments, new airframes of old aircraft with good AESA radar and ECM and weapon set can be a very potent ‘air defense’ line. The Lancer update of the MiG21 and the Indian Jaguar update are clear examples (EL/M 2052 radar, Elta Jamming pod, Litening targeting pod, Python/Derby missile combo and ordinance like the SAAW and/or Popeye like missiles) of platforms that can play very well through the mid 2030s.

  • by Steve
    Posted January 10, 2017 7:07 pm 0Likes

    Yup, our ROSE upgrade is a similar concept but old gen 2-3 airframes have limited life and notoriously become flying coffins. We would not induct an old platform now for instance, as all older aircraft are being replaced by new-built JF17 which is more of a frontline fighter especially in its block III version than old platforms with Israeli upgrades.

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