India’s intention to sell Argentina its domestically produced Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas could be put to a stop by the US need to restrain the rising influence of Eastern states, especially China.
According to recent reports, the US Capitol is looking for Congress’ approval to let Denmark sell F-16 warplanes to Argentina.
In order to fill the void left by the retirement of the Mirage aircraft in 2015, Argentina has been aggressively looking for fighter jets to add to its inventory. At least 10 A-4 fighter bombers and armed IA-63 Pampa jet trainers are currently part of its active arsenal.
A total of 12 new fighter jets will be purchased in September 2021 with US$664 million allocated by the Argentine defence ministry. Argentina’s options have been narrowed down to the Chinese-Pakistanian JF-17, the Russian-built MiG-29 and MiG-35, and the Indian-made LCA Tejas as a result of the UK placing an arms embargo against Argentina.
According to a recent revelation in the local media, the US pressured Argentina to select Danish F-16 fighter planes over Chinese or Indian fighter jets. In an effort to overtake Britain as the top arms supplier since the Malvinas or Falkland War, the US is almost ready to approve the sale of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Argentina.
“The White House has once again pressured Congress to approve the sale of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Argentina, which has not yet decided whether to buy the Pakistan-made Chinese JF 17 Thunder or the Indian-made HAL Tejas,” the report read.
Washington’s concerns over the agreement were attributed in the paper to “the global geopolitical dispute between the Western and Asian powers.” The UK’s ban on the export and trading of goods deemed to strengthen Argentine military power is the principal barrier to the transaction.
The Argentinian defence minister Jorge Taiana reportedly brought up the subject of British components in LCA during his earlier this month visit to India, according to the EurAsian Times.
“We have sent our pilots to fly and consider different aircraft worldwide. One issue is that if the plane has even one British component, the British do not allow it to sell it to Argentina. LCA has 16 such components. The issue is to change or replace these components,” the Argentinian defense minister added.
LCA Tejas in Singapore
On February 15, 2022, Tejas aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) performed during the Singapore Air Show’s opening ceremony.
The Russian MiG-35 proposal was initially rejected, and the armed forces believe the Indian HAL Tejas has little chance of succeeding, the article said. However, Santiago Cafiero, the foreign minister, and Defence Minister Taiana’s recent trip to India appeared to rekindle the government’s interest in buying HAL Tejas fighter fighters.
But Argentina did sign a letter of intent for the potential acquisition of 20 light utility and combat helicopters.
The story cites sources that claim that hurdle has already been removed at the US’s request, leaving just the financial terms to be agreed upon. Additionally, the planes could be delivered as early as August if the US Congress approves the legislation allowing the sale to Denmark.
The commander of the Southern Command, Laura Richardson, and number two in the State Department, Wendy Sherman, were both in Argentina, and the Argentine daily noted a flurry of activity between the two nations during their visits.
“The urgency of the United States to seal the aircraft deal with Argentina is aimed at countering the proposal for the JF-17s produced by China and Pakistan, which comprises fewer units (15) but are new and offer the possibility of ordering a second and third batch,” the report added.
The FAD specialists claim that the F-16 meets the technical criteria as a more potent aircraft with a larger weapons load than the JF-17. It would, however, necessitate spending money on enhancing airport infrastructure because of its very low engine intake port, which tends to absorb several foreign objects.
Argentina trying to procure advanced fighter jets
Argentina and the UK are at odds over the Malvinas or the Falkland Islands, which is making it difficult for Argentina to find a contract for its air force. The most readily available fighter plane for Argentina at the moment is the JF-17.
By imposing embargoes on UK-owned aircraft parts, Britain has thrown a wrench in Argentina’s ambitions to purchase fighter jets. It put pressure on Spain to back out of a contract to give its neighbour extra Mirage F1M fighters.
Due to British pressure and US control over the aircraft’s J79 engines, a deal for Israeli Kfir planes also appears to have fallen through. In addition, the UK effectively blocked the export of the South Korean KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle and the Swedish JAS Gripen, both of which were produced under licence by Brazil.
Even Argentina’s attempt to purchase five French Dassault Super Etendard Modernise fighters was unsuccessful because of an arms embargo imposed by Britain over the aircraft’s MK6 ejection seat. The planned deal was abandoned as a result.
Argentina, whose neighbours Chile and Brazil have stronger fighter planes, is in a bind as a result of the several cancelled accords. 36 Saab Gripen E fighters will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force.