The Argentine parliament has approved a draft budget for 2022, which includes purchasing 12 JF-17A Block III fighters. The cost of purchasing new fighters is estimated at $ 664 million. Ten jets will be delivered in a single-seat version and two more in a double seat version.
A delegation from China visited Argentina in May to discuss the possible supply of JF-17A Block III multi-role fighters. The delegation included representatives from the Chinese company AVIC (Aviation Industries Corporation of China Ltd), a division of CATIC (China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation).
As per open sources, the aircraft are to be assembled and maintained in the Rio Cuarto Material Area, Cordoba, belonging to the Argentine Air Force. The customization is as per the customer’s requirements. The options revolve around the current Russian Klimov RD-93 engine with 8300 kg of thrust or the new Klimov RD 93MA wIth 9300 kg of thrust, which is soon to enter production and will become the engine JF-17 Block 3 standard. The aircraft is capable of carrying four air-to-air missiles, two short-range Infrared and two medium-range BVR. The ejection seat offered is HTY-5D. It is speculated that the deal involves an offsets proposal for the Fábrica Argentina de Aviones SA (FAdeA) and Chinese loans.
Recently China displayed the JF-17A Block III model with PL-10 air-to-air combat missile instead of PL 5. The PL-10E is speculated to be an export version of the PL-10 missile. Other additions to the Block III are a newer AESA radar, larger holographic wide-angle head-up display and integrated cockpit display similar to the one used by the J-20, in addition to an advanced infrared missile approach warning system.
Earlier, Argentina had negotiated with the South Korean company KAI (Korea Aerospace Industries) to purchase light strike aircraft FA-50. But the deal was not finalized due to a blockade by the United Kingdom (UK) and a refusal to supply components to Argentina.
The Chinese company, which had earlier lost the deal, decided to try a second time to promote its offer to the South American country.
The JF-17 Thunder was developed by the Chinese company Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).