Argentina’s Ministry of Defense issued an official statement on Tuesday in which it denies having selected the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter.
According to the government, a provision of $664 million was included in the 2022 budget for the acquisition of multifunctional fighter jets, however, the competition is still in the technical and financial evaluation phase of five proposals.
“The Ministry of Defense informs that, by means of the Authorization Note of Public Credit Operations, it has requested the inclusion of the 2022 budget to authorize the management of a credit of US $ 664 million for the acquisition of multipurpose fighters, for control of air space,” said the statement.
“In the same way, this ministry clarifies that it was not issued on the purchase of supersonic aircraft of any origin and it is in the technical-economic and financial evaluation phase of five alternatives.”
However, the document released last week details the aircraft developed by Chengdu in partnership with PAC (Pakistan Aerospace Complex). The information makes it clear that these are Block III fighters, the most modern and currently being tested in China.
Several attempts at agreement
The re-equipment of the Argentine Air Force with a new air defense fighter is a process that has taken several years. Since 2015, the South American country has not had an aircraft of this type, after the last Dassault Mirage III was withdrawn from operation.
Several attempts at agreement have been sought since then, but have run into budget constraints and political issues such as the South Korean FA-50 planes, whose ejection seats, manufactured by Martin-Baker, have been vetoed by the UK government.
While not defining an aircraft, the FAA has used A-4AR aircraft to keep its pilots active in a restricted air defense squad.
It is known that at least the Russian UAC (MiG-35) and the Italian Leonardo (M-346FA) have expressed interest in providing combat aircraft to Argentina.
The planned investment, of $664 million, suggests a unit cost of just over $50 million per aircraft, about a third of the amount Brazil pays for the 36 Gripen E/F fighters purchased from Saab.