The US State Department has approved the transfer of 24 F-16 fighter jets from Denmark to Argentina
The green light comes as China pitched its JF-17s to Buenos Aires, which is looking to fill the capability gap left by the retirement of its 16 Dassault Mirage-III fighter jets in 2015.
Beijing’s offer is financially more attractive and comes with fewer “restrictions,” according to La Nacion.
China has reportedly offered a batch of 15 aircraft to Argentina with a possibility of two more batches.
The Sino-Pakistani aircraft is more modern compared to the Lockheed Martin platform that first flew in the 1970s.
Moreover, the JF-17 offered to Argentina has Chinese engines, unlike the variants operated by Myanmar and Nigeria that feature Russian engines.
“They are new aircraft and China offers a very complete weapon and sensor package with few restrictions,” La Nacion wrote, quoting military sources.
Estimated $700 Million Package
In comparison, the Danish offer includes air-to-air missiles such as AMRAAM and Sidewinder, as well as maintenance, spares, and training.
A $40 million package is also being prepared by the US to facilitate the sale, estimated to reach $700 million.
Additionally, a sale of four Norwegian P-3 anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft has also been approved for the Argentinian Navy, according to Pucara Defensa.
“We have officially communicated to the government of Denmark the approval of the United States of the transfer to now work directly with the Argentine government to finalize it,” Argentinian outlet Clarin quoted the deputy assistant secretary for Regional Security at the State Department Mira Resnick.
Resnick visited Argentina in July to discuss the deal, which has reportedly grown into a strategic move to counter Chinese influence in the region.
According to US representatives, the operationally proven American platform offers interoperability with the aircraft of neighbouring countries such as Chile, Brazil, and possibly Colombia.
“Interoperability and the close relationship with the United States will contribute more to the modernization of the Armed Forces that Argentina seeks,” Clarin quoted a military expert as saying.
The recent trip to India by Defence Minister Jorge Taiana, alongside Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, seemed to revive the government’s interest in the possible purchase of HAL Tejas fighter jets.
But the visit only resulted in agreements with the HAL helicopter factory to develop and commercialise 20 aeronautical products, including the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Progress was also made on a letter of intent to purchase batteries of BrahMos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles.