Prior to the Falklands War, in 1983, the Argentine Air Force fielded nearly a hundred modern Dassault Mirage IIIEA, IAI Dagger (unlicensed copy of the Mirage V) and A-4B/C/P Skyhawk fighters, while the naval air forces had about twenty A-4Q Skyhawk aircraft and 6 Dassault Super-Etendards, making it one of the most powerful and best equipped air forces in South America. If the Falklands War heavily dented these troops, with the loss of 22 Skyhawks, 11 Daggers and 2 Mirage IIIs, it was above all Western sanctions and the consequences of the repeated economic crises that hit the country that decimated its air forces. Today, Buenos Aires aligns, in terms of fighter fleet, only 23 A-4AR Skyhawk modernized but of a canonical age, and 6 training and attack planes FMA IA-63 Pampa III, derivatives of the IA-63 Pampa trainer.
The Argentine authorities have been trying to modernize this hunting fleet for many years, despite the most difficult budgetary context that the country has gone through. However, Buenos Aires has always, so far, come up against a strict veto from London, through its two key companies in the aeronautical field, the engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and especially the ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker, which now equips almost all of the combat devices designed and manufactured by the Western bloc. However, according to statements by Brigadier General xavier isaac Commander of the Argentine Air Force, Buenos Aires is more determined than ever to modernize its fleet with, beyond 6 new Pampa III which will be ordered, two models of aircraft in the line of sight, the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, and more surprisingly, a used offer from Kfir of Israel Aircraft Industrie.
The JF-17 hypothesis has been raised for several years by Buenos Aires. This single-engine fighter was designed by the Chinese Chengdu as well as the Pakistani aeronautical industry to modernize the air force of Islamabad, and presents excellent performance and the most modern avionics for a very attractive acquisition price. In its Block III version, the aircraft has a KLJ-7A radar equipped with an AESA active antenna, an IRST infrared detection system, a helmet sight and an electronic defense suite, and can implement new generation Chinese missiles such as the short-range PL-10E and the 15 km range PL-120E, as well as numerous air-to-surface and air-to-surface munitions. In addition, it can be equipped with the new Chinese WS-13 turbojet engine instead of the Klimov RD-93, but also with a Chinese ejection seat instead of the Martin-Baker PK16LE which equips aircraft intended for the Pakistani air force.
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