Home Defense Argentina’s Air Force to Regain Supersonic Capability with Upgraded F-16s from Denmark

Argentina’s Air Force to Regain Supersonic Capability with Upgraded F-16s from Denmark

Since withdrawing its French-made supersonic Mirage IIIEA/DA and 5P Mara fighter planes from service, the Argentine Air Force [Fuerza Aérea Argentina—FAA] has practically considered the most conceivable replacements. Budget constraints have not made the work simple. Neither has the United Kingdom, which has not hesitated to interfere with Argentina by vetoing any initiative to purchase aircraft built with British parts.

After considering the purchase of Mirage F1s, IAI Kfirs, JAS-39 Gripens, F/A-50 Golden Eagles, and even Russian MiG-35s, Buenos Aires recently considered two types of combat aircraft: the FC-1/JF-17 Thunder Block III, the result of Sino-Pakistani cooperation, and the Tejas from Indian manufacturer HAL. Buenos Aires evaluated Tejas after asking China for a $664 million credit opening for the “acquisition project of the JF-17 weapon system” in the 2022 budget.

Javier Milei’s election as President of the Argentine Republic last November changed the situation, given that he appears much less inclined toward China than his predecessors. At the same time, Washington has prioritized closer ties with Buenos Aires as Chinese influence grows in South America. Therefore, the FAA approved the sale of 24 former Danish F-16A/B MLU fighter-bombers.

Argentina and Denmark sign F-16 sale agreement
Argentina and Denmark sign F-16 sale agreement

Troels Lund Poulsen, the Danish Minister of Defense, finalized the details of this sale during his visit to Buenos Aires last March. On April 16, at the Skrydstrup Air Base in Denmark, he sealed the deal by signing a contract worth around 280 million euros (US $300 million).

“With these new aircraft, we are taking an important step in our defense policy by reclaiming supersonic capability and definitively bringing our air force into the 21st century,” the Argentine minister further stated.

Even though modernized, the F-16A/B MLU aircraft that Argentina has just acquired were assembled starting in 1979 by the Belgian manufacturer SABCA (now Sabena Engineering) as part of what was called at the time the “contract of the century” since the Lockheed-Martin aircraft was almost simultaneously acquired by Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark, these countries wishing to replace their Lockheed F-104G Starfighter. It is worth noting that all of them have since joined the F-35 program.

The contract signed by Argentina includes the delivery of four flight simulators, eight engines, and spare parts guaranteed for five years, in addition to the 24 F-16s. This amount also includes the training of FAA pilots and mechanics.



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