Argentina may close purchase of 15 HAL Tejas fighters, according to reports

Argentine defense minister’s visit to India to discuss military cooperation agreements takes place this week

The long wait of the Argentine Air Force (FAA) for new supersonic fighters may have an end soon if it depends on the Indian media.

News channels in the country have raised speculation in recent days about the Argentine government being close to announcing the purchase of 15 Tejas fighter jets, from the Indian manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

According to Zee Business, the deal could reach US$ 1 billion and confirmation of the acquisition of the planes is expected this week.

One indication involves the visit of the Minister of Defense of Argentina, Jorge Taiana, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday to discuss negotiation and military cooperation agreements with India.

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The HAL Tejas is one of the fighters evaluated by the FAA in recent years, but the option for the Indian aircraft, however, has not yet been confirmed by official means of both countries.

HAL Tejas (Deb Rana)

However, to meet a possible order from Buenos Aires, HAL will need to develop a Tejas variant that does not have British equipment, something already considered by the Indian manufacturer.

Argentina, which claims ownership of the Falkland Islands, is barred by Great Britain from purchasing British military equipment or technology that possesses British intellectual property. The ban has been in force since the end of the Falklands War between the two countries in 1982.

Due to the London sanction, around 50 components of the Tejas would have to be adapted to the requirements of the Argentine Air Force. One of these items is an ejection seat, supplied by the British Martin Baker – recently, the Argentine Navy gave up activating the Super Étendard Modernisé fighters due to the lack of ejection seats.

Eight years without supersonic fighters

Military force that was once one of the most powerful in Latin America, Fuerza Aérea Argentina flew its last supersonic fighters in 2015, when it retired the Dassault Mirage IIIs.

With the withdrawal of the French fighter, the country’s air defense has since then been limited to the veteran McDonnell Douglas A-4AR and the FMA IA-63 Pampa, produced locally by FAdeA.

The Tejas, capable of reaching Mach 1.6 (1,900 km/h) and designed for multiple activities, could be a low-cost option for FAA renewal.

Each unit of the Indian fighter is valued at around US$ 60 million and its low operating cost, due to the single-engine configuration, is interesting for the Argentine reality.

The competition to supply the Argentine Air Force with fighter jets has been going on for years. The South American nation even selected the FA-50, from South Korean KAI, but the company withdrew from the agreement after the United Kingdom banned the use of British ejection seats.

JF-17 fighter (David Chao)

Considered the favored proposal, the Chinese-Pakistani group Chengdu-PAC offered the JF-17 Thunder Block III fighter to Argentina. Another offer was the MiG-35 from Russia, but that option has since been ruled out by the Argentine government.

There were also offers of used F-16 fighters from Danish stocks, in a deal that would be brokered by the United States. However, none of these conversations moved forward.


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