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Replacement Fighter Aircraft
Reemplaz aviones de combate

By 2021 the JF-17 was competing with the Russian MiG-35 aircraft to position itself as the replacement for the Mirage weapons system , decommissioned in 2015 and which led Argentina to lose its supersonic interception capability. The Air Force in its choice is to a certain extent constrained by financial constraints, so they cannot afford expensive systems such as the F-16, Gripen and others.

Originally the intentions were to replace the Mirage, decommissioned in 2015, with what was called a complementary fighter. The selected aircraft was the FA-50 of the Korean company KAI. However, the blockade on the export licenses of various components of British origin made the negotiations come apart in late 2020. A country that buys combat fighters inevitably becomes dependent on the supplying country. It is not enough to buy planes - there is still a need to train pilots, arrange the supply of ammunition and spare parts, and organize maintenance of equipment. So the question is whether Argentina ready to orient itself towards Russia or China.

Clearly the path to purchase fighter plane to Argentina suffers from two main obstacles: First, the inability of Argentina to finance a purchase with cash. Second, a serious lack of options in terms of new construction multirole fighters, and is thus pushing platforms like Dassault Mirage F-1, IAI Kfir, and Tiger Northrop F-5 II.

Argentina's search for a new multirole fighter has been eventful, to say the least. Their program began in 2013 when it tried to acquire a series of Mirage F-1 of the Spanish Air Force, but the inability of the Argentine government to finance a purchase and a number of technical issues sank the deal. Later, Argentina sought the ex-Israeli IAI Kfir, but uncertainty about the condition of the airframe, its age and insufficient backing from the Argentine government put a fence in front of that road. In 2014, Argentina began to think Chinese and Russian aircraft combat; nothing came from that side. In 2014 or 2015, someone proposed the idea of acquiring the JAS-39 Gripen, but the British intensive components on that plane made it a non-transformed option.

The Argentine Air Forces's four ground-attack/interceptor squadrons evidenced the service's preference for the French-manufactured Mirage fighter. Two of the squadrons were assigned a total of 15 Mirage Ill-EAs and 22 Mirage III-CJs that were acquired from Dassault-Breguet in 1983. The remaining two squadrons were equipped with nine Mirage 5-Ps, received in 1982, and some 32 of the Israeli Aircraft Industries' Dagger, a model similar in design to the Mirage 5-P. At least six of the Daggers were purchased in 1983. By early 1984 these 78 aircraft were being equipped with aerial refueling probes, reportedly with assistance provided by Israel. The Daggers were also being modified with what was called the Integrated Navigation and Firing System; the designer of the system was not identified.

In recent years several news circulated about possible purchases of second-hand fighter jets to the FAA, as the Mirage F1M disabled by Spain, the Mirage 2000 offered by the government of Paris and the batch of Kfir Block 60 proposed by Israel. However, political and financial factors eventually dilute the negotiations. Recently there were rumors about the possibility that Argentina could opt for a deal with China involving JF-17 fighters.

A-4 Skyhawk

The air force's three ground attack squadrons were reported in early 1984 to be equipped with 54 A-4P Skyhawks manufactured in the United States. Some of the Skyhawks—perhaps as many as 24—were previously in service with the Israeli air force. In early 1984 Israel sought United States permission to transfer Skyhawks then in its inventory to Argentina. A number of the jets were also reported to have been transferred "amid great secrecy" to Argentina in mid-December 1983, shortly after the United States embargo on military sales to that country was lifted. Reports were vague as to how many of these aircraft were destined for use by the air force; some were believed to be assigned to the navy.

The 1994 US sale of A-4M aircraft to the Argentine Air Force came only over the strong objections of the British government. Once the US government approved the sale the British lobbied strenuously to limit the level of sophistication of the avionics the aircraft could carry. It took concerted lobbying by the Argentine Defense and Foreign Ministries in both London and Washington before Britain and the United States came to an agreement that allowed for installation of radars with more sensitive "early warning" technology.

Still, the Northrop/Grumman "ARG-1" radar had its limitations. It lacked any beyond visual range capability to lock weapons onto targets before the pilot can see those targets. Two or three British Tornados, which can see beyond the horizon, would wreak havoc with the whole squadron of the Skyhawks, they would be blown out of the sky before they knew what hit them.

Owing to the fact that most of the fleet is now totalling well over 30 years of FAA service, service life extension programs, weapons systems upgrades and major overhauls are becoming customary and proceeding as budgetary allocations are made available for individual projects.

Argentina unsuccessfully negotiated with France, Spain and Israel to acquire used aircraft. Another possibility would be the purchase of the 12 used Mirage 2000s acquired by the Brazilian Air Force from France in 2005. These were retired by Brazil at the end of 2013 because of high maintenance costs and problems with parts availability - the aircraft had over 10,000 flight hours each.

In August 2013 the Sunday Express revealed details of a contract to buy 20 French Mirage fighter jets from Spain, giving Argentina the ability to attack Port Stanley airfield with laser guided bombs.

A large public air show on 30 November 2015 saw the Mirage fleet decommissioned after over four decades in service since 1973. This left a hole in the Argentine Air Force's capability with no replacement in sight. been found. The newly elected government of Maurico Macri will be responsible for obtaining replacement fighters subject to available funding after it came to power in December 2015.

Saab Gripen

In October 2014, Defense Minister Agustin Rossi announced the purchase of 24 Saab Gripen fighters, which were to have been provided by Brazil. The Minister of Argentine defense, Agustín Rossi, and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, signed the Strategic Alliance cooperation agreement in Aeronautical Industry (IAEA) document which provides for negotiations so that our neighbor has access to Gripen NG Swedish SAAB will be manufactured in Brazil, paving the way for the acquisition of 24 units of the model to the FAA. However, as almost 30% of the fighter plane chosen by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) contains components provided by the United Kingdom, it was expected that the Argentine claim to face many difficulties. It would have been the first major purchase of new military aircraft by Buenos Aires since the Falklands War three decades ago. However, the deal was called off because some of the jet’s parts were made in the UK.

Sukhoi Su-24

The Falkland Islands - a UK overseas territory Argentina lays claim to - allegedly reviewed their defenses after news Russia may offer Argentina fighter jets. Moscow could swap them for beef and wheat, UK's Daily Express said in an exclusive report December 28, 2014. According to the portal British news Sunday Express , the Air Force Argentina (FAA) may receive about a dozen fighter aircraft Sukhoi Su-24m2 2020. The deal, he said the portal would have begun to take shape during the visit Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country in July this year. Putin would have offered military aid in exchange for commodities that Russia needs, including, meat and wheat. It is important to remember that Ukraine, until recently, was one of the main sources of food for the Russians, and the current belligerence between the two countries, overlapping the measures taken by the European Union in light of this situation, it is demanding the search for alternatives .

The deal reportedly involves a lease/lend of twelve Sukhoi Su-24 all-weather attack aircraft, which NATO calls "Fencer A". The jets will be able to do air patrols over the Falklands' capital, Port Stanley. According to the tabloid, Ministry of Defense officials fear Buenos Aires will take delivery of the planes well before the 2020 deployment of the Navy’s 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B fighters, leaving a “real window of vulnerability.”

Russia had been developing friendly ties with Argentina since 2010, when it signed a "historic" contract with Buenos Aires and delivered two Mi17 assault helicopters to serve in the country's national Air Force. The sale was the first time the Argentinean military had bought Russian military hardware. President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Argentina in July 2014 also helped boost relations between the countries, possibly paving the way for exchanging Russian military hardware for food and goods.

Kfir C.10

The Argentinian authorities did not sign the $390-million contract for the purchase of 14 Israeli Kfir fighter jets, deciding to leave this decision to the next government. In early November 2015, media reports emerged that the two countries had finalized the deal after almost two years of talks but Argentina had suspended it indefinitely amid issues over weapons systems and upgrades. "This is not a step back, we didn’t sign the contract given the upcoming change of government," Defense Minister Agustin Rossi said.

Northrop F-5E Tiger II

With efforts to buy the 14 (IAI) Kfir C.10 come to naught, by May 2016 instead the Argentine Ministry of Defense was looking at the possibility of acquiring 12-14 US Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs. Although used to the muddle, so far as a modern multi-function platform can be acquired, it is clear that the Argentina Air Force had very few options available to meet its needs.

Super Étendard

MercoPress South Atlantic News Agency reported 22 May 2017 that Argentine had agreed to purchase several refurbished Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard fighter bombers originally from the French navy. These Super Étendards are similar to those the Argentine Navy used during the Falklands conflict in 1982 and will be incorporated to the Air Force. Talks with France also involved the possible purchase of engines to power 20 Argentine Pucaras aircraft that are currently grounded due to maintenance issues.

“The transaction provides excellent value, and under very favorable conditions,” Defense Minister Julio Martinez was quoted during a visit to France. “The Argentine Air Force cannot do without supersonic aircraft. Our pilots must be able to train in modern aircraft.” However Martinez declined to detail the financial details of a possible deal since “negotiations are not finished”.

Minister Martinez also acknowledged that the United States has offered to sell Argentina F-16 fighter fighters but the Mirage would better fulfill the needs of the country. “The operating cost of the F-16 makes them almost prohibitively expensive,” he said. Argentina had previously been in talks with Israel for their Kfir fighter.

FA-50 Golden Eagle

Within the framework of the G20 leaders summit, President Mauricio Macri and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in agreed to the purchase 10 FA-50 Golden Eagle supersonic aircraft for about 200 million dollars. According to the newspaper Infobae, the "gold brooch" of this purchase was given by both leaders during a meeting that they kept private in Japan and where they reviewed the bilateral relations between which Argentina's purchase of the South Korean supersonic aircraft is found. " The intention of the government is to acquire two FA-50 aircraft this year and another eight next year, which will give air defense superiority to our defense, " said a government official.

South Korean airplanes will replace the scarce A-4AR fighter that the Air Force has and the financing of that operation will be 10 years with an extension for another two years. To meet the USD 200 million that the operation will cost, a special extrabudgetary item will be allocated. The acquisition to strengthen military equipment is also part of the Government's strategy to relaunch the national aviation factory FADEA, which has just closed a sale of two PAMPA planes to Guatemala and is negotiating the sale of six other aircraft to Paraguay for a global cost for the two operations of USD 130 million.

Military sources related to the Air Force explained that South Korea's FA-50 aircraft are advanced and supersonic training aircraft. However, they are not fighter jets and their maintenance could be very expensive. Argentina has Pampa planes at the Combat Pilot School at the IV Mendoza Air Brigade and the idea would be to replace the machines that are flying with the new FA-50.

The FA-50 was the aircraft selected by the Argentine Air Force with which to recover part of the capabilities lost due to the loss of the Mirage / Finger Weapons Systems in 2015. However, at the end of October 2020, KAI informed the Argentine ambassador in South Korea, which, if negotiations continued, could not guarantee the manufacture of the units. A total of 5 components require UK government approval for export. Korea would only agree to sell the "gutted" aircraft - not the FA but the TA-50, which is still a trainer with fighter pretensions.

According to the chief of staff of the Argentine Air Force, Javier Isaac, aircraft manufacturers easily succumbed to British pressure, since they doubted the country's financial ability to pay for the purchase of new fighters. "The British veto reaction did not take us by surprise. Because we have long expected this not only from KAI, but also from everyone who offers us products [meaning combat aircraft]" explained the general.


Argentina intends to purchase more than 15 MiG-29 fighters from Russia. This was stated by Anatoly Punchuk, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), RIA Novosti reported 27 January 2017. According to him, Buenos Aires has already sent a commercial proposal to Russia. According to Punchuk, Russia is preparing an "appropriate response." Punchuk announced the upcoming deal at the international presentation of the MiG-35 fighter in Lukhovitsy. On Thursday, January 26, its flight tests were carried out in Lukhovitsy. The videoconference dedicated to this event was attended by President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov. The MiG-29 is a fourth generation multirole fighter developed in the 1970s in the Soviet Union. The fighter has been delivered abroad several times and is operated in 30 countries. Its successor in the line of MiG fighters should be the MiG-35.

In January 2017, Argentina sent Russia a commercial proposal for the purchase of more than 15 MiG-29 fighters. However, it never came to the signing of the contract, and in May 2019, Buenos Aires postponed the purchase without giving any reason. Argentina has postponed the issue of acquiring Russian MiG-29 fighters, after the presidential elections in the country at the end of October, negotiations may resume, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Anatoly Punchuk told RIA Novosti 07 October 2019. "They have elections ahead, so today it is premature to talk about progress. While they are declaring their interest. They have slowed down and cannot move on, because they understand that today's agreements may not be implemented further. Well, this is quite logical," Punchuk said.

LAAD 2017 in Brazil was the first Latin American exhibition, which became a platform for the continuation of negotiations on the acquisition of the MiG-35 by Latin American countries after the world premiere of the aircraft, which took place in January 2017 in Russia. The MiG-35 is one of three fighters in the world with an integrated thrust vector deflection system, which ensures high survivability. The advantages also include a powerful radar, a large payload, modern avionics and electronic warfare systems. The MiG-35 is also capable of taking off from short runways.

Sources consulted confirmed to the Military Zone that the Argentine Air Force has submitted a formal request for a quote for a total of 10 MiG-35 and 2 MiG-35D, as part of a formal negotiation that encompasses other weapons systems. According to the Argentine site Aviación Completa, Russia offered MiG-35 fighters and Mi-171 helicopters to Argentina. The offer would have been made within the framework of the VII Intergovernmental Commission for Technical Cooperation - Argentine Military Republic - Russian Federation, held from February 17 to 19, 2021, by the head of the Russian delegation and the deputy director of the Federal Cooperation Service Military. (SFCTM), Anatoly Punchuk, with the Russian Ambassador to Argentina, Dmitry Feoktistov. The offer also included other ground and anti-aircraft defense systems. Russian proposed a government-to-government operation with an agreement to provide logistics throughout the life cycle of the system, unlimited access to smart weapons, while the Argentine FAdeA aircraft factory would take care of the maintenance of the total system. Although the proposal was officially presented, for the moment there was no talk of quantities or costs.

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Page last modified: 16-11-2021 19:00:21 ZULU