Argentina takes one step closer to acquiring Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Block III fighters

Since the end of the Falklands War, the Argentine government has faced an unwavering blockade from London to prevent it from acquiring new fighter jets. It is true that with two destroyers, two frigates, a container ship and a Royal Navy assault ship to the credit of the Argentinian pilots at the controls of their Mirage, Skyhawk and Super-Etendard, we understand that the the hypothesis of seeing Buenos Aires acquire again a modern air force could hardly delight the British authorities. All Western fighter planes being equipped with ejection seats from the British manufacturer Martin Baker, opposition from London was, for a long time, potentially absolute, and all initiatives to modernize the Argentinian air fleet with Western aircraft manufacturers have failed. , the phenomenon being accentuated by the serious economic difficulties encountered in the country.

What had to happen, did, and Buenos Aires finally turned to non-Western solutions in an attempt to provide an answer to its hunting fleet on the verge of being completely grounded. While negotiations with Moscow stumbled over budget issues and Washington's threat to make use of CAATSA legislation, discussions with Beijing around Chinese-Pakistani light fighter JF-17 have been prosecuted, despite the fact that the main user of the device, the Pakistani air force, also uses Martin-Baker ejection seats. The solution has apparently been found since in the 2022 budget planning of the Argentine Ministry of Defense appears a $ 664 million line of credit denominated for the acquisition of JF-17 Block III fighters.

An Argentinian Mirage 5 attacking the British fleet during the landing of Port San Carlos on May 22, 1983

It is not, strictly speaking, an order confirmation. However, the country's authorities are confident enough in the possibilities of quickly reaching an applicable contract to reserve $ 664 million, which still represents 0,15% of the country's GDP, for this program. In addition, Beijing, which remains the main manufacturer of the device, has developed its own range of ejection seats, derived from Russian models, and may in fact offer an effective alternative to Buenos Aires in this key area. Finally, $ 664 million corresponds more or less to what we can expect from a contract for 12 JF-17 Block III aircraft with a minimum of spare parts, a simulator and adequate training. For armaments, on the other hand, it is likely that it will be necessary to wait until 2023 and an additional envelope.


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