Argentina sanctioned $664 million in the draft of its budget document for 2022 presented to the country’s congress, intending to buy at least 12 JF-17A Block III combat aircraft from Pakistan, several online journals, including UK Defence Journal, stated on Sunday.
According to the defence journal, the Argentine Air Force had “chosen Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder, (after) discarding offers from Russia, USA and India” and talks in this regard were underway.
Initially, the Argentine Air Force intends to buy 10 single-seater combat jets and 2 two-seater trainer/figters.
A spokesperson for Pakistan Air Force (PAF) told Samaa Digital that sanctioning of funds did not necessarily mean that the deal would go through. “There will be no official comment until a purchase deal is signed,” he said.
Relations between Pakistan and Argentina turned warmer when Islamabad opted to support a UN resolution fielded by Argentina stating that “the continued existence of colonialism is incompatible with the ideal of universal peace held by the United Nations”, which has relevance for the Falklands Islands issue.
The JF-17 Thunder is a fourth-generation light weight single-engine, all-weather, day-night, multi-role combat jet developed by both Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra and Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China. The aircraft could be used in varied roles: interception, ground-attack, anti-ship and aerial reconnaissance.
According to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, its combat capabilities included air-to-air and air-to-ground attack.
JF-17 Thunder is equipped with latest integrated flight aviation systems and avionics, computerized flight control and modern weapons system, allowing the aircraft superiority over other jets in the same class.
Since 2013, when the Argentine Air Force phased out its ageing Mirage F-1s, Argentina has been trying to buy combat aircraft from a number of countries but most of the deals do not go through because of shortage of funds or an arms embargo imposed by Britain. Most recently, Argentina was barred from buying South Korean military jets.
If the deal is finalized, this will give a major boost to the Argentine Air Force, “which lost most of its (air) fleet during the conflict with British Forces in 1982”.
Back in 2013, Argentina sought to buy Spanish Air Force Mirage F-1s, but it failed because a lack of funds.
By 2014, Argentina had considered Israeli, Chinese and Russian jet fighters. In 2015, it also tried to buy, without any success, JAS-39 Grippen from Sweden.