US close to authorizing sale of F-16 fighter jets to Argentina – report

Combat aircraft belong to Denmark and will be replaced by the 5th generation Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter

Argentina may soon receive the green light from the US government to acquire second-hand F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters currently operated by the Royal Danish Air Force.

According to Flight Global, the Biden administration plans to approve the sale of an undisclosed number of 4th generation fighter jets to the Argentine Air Force, which has been without a supersonic aircraft since 2015.

The revelation reinforces information obtained by the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, which reported the US government’s plan to supply 38 F-16 fighters and four P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft to the South American country.

The outlet had access to documents from the State Department that mention the sale of six fighters in the Block 10 version and 32 in the Block 15 version, valued at US$ 339 million, which belong to the Royal Danish Air Force.

Norwegian Navy P-3 Orion (Alan Wilson)

As for the patrol planes, they are four P-3C valued at US$ 108,448,910 and stored by the Norwegian Air Force, one of which is equipped to fight submarines.

Denmark is replacing the F-16s with the 5th generation Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightining II fighter, while Norway is one of the operators of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, a maritime patrol aircraft based on the 737-800.

HAL Tejas (HAL)

Chinese influence in the region

The sale of second-hand F-16 fighters to Argentina runs into a chronic problem, the restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom on the inclusion of military equipment manufactured in the country for its former rival in the dispute over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.

London has barred agreements negotiated by the Argentine government involving aircraft such as the South Korean FA-50 and the Gripen, as they use ejection seats provided by Martin-Baker.

Restrictions have pushed Argentina towards India, which offer the LCA Tejas, and China, which makes the JF-17 Thunder in partnership with Pakistan.

Hindustan Aeronautics has made concessions to replace British equipment on the Tejas fighter with similar Russian ones, while Chengdu and PAC have no relevant Western items.

JF-17 fighter (David Chao)

However, the possible exception to be made by the US and UK may be a response to the growing Chinese influence in South America.

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The choice of a new fighter for Argentina, however, may come up against the holding of presidential elections in October. The country’s current president, leftist Alberto Fernandéz, is not running for re-election and the favorite in the primaries is an extreme right-wing politician, Javier Milei.

Therefore, any agreement may not be able to be reached in time by the current administration.


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