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Cross pressure between the US and China over the combat aircraft that Argentina seeks to buy


The Air Force has been seeking to equip itself for years and is at a crossroads between the North American F16 and the FJ-17 Thunder manufactured by the Asian country.

The possible and long-awaited visit of Alberto Fernández to Joe Biden refers to a set of facts that are not necessarily visible.

One of them is the military cooperation sought by China in Argentina, and which is contextualized in the tensions between Beijing and Washington and in the

latter's misgivings about China's presence in strategic, infrastructure, logistics and military areas.

This tension has been taking place precisely in the rush that Air Force Commander Xavier Isaac is having on the one hand, and Defense Minister Jorge Taiana on the other, to close an agreement before the end of the year that allows him to buy the long-awaited combat aircraft that the forces have needed for decades to re-equip after the British victory in the Malvinas war, which had a double consequence.

The Chinese Pakistani JF-17 Thunder plane that China wants to sell to Argentina.

It is in this tension that the military and the political power are experiencing strong cross pressures between the United States,

which wants to sell some F16 fighters of its own harvest through Denmark.


Chinese, who are looking to sell the most modern version of their FJ17 designed by them and manufactured in Pakistan.

From the United States there were even warnings about the consequences of choosing Chinese aircraft.


learned that Isaac and Taiana were constantly informed of this, and his immediate meeting with Ambassador Marc Stanley to discuss "cooperation in defense matters" a few days after the minister received the ambassador in Beijing, Sabino, drew attention. Narvaja Cow.

In Buenos Aires, the forces and Defense say they have been clear with the Americans.

“It is not an ideological choice, but a practical one.

If it were possible, we would analyze other options, including French and Swedish ones.

But they are all European consortiums and therefore we are subject to the British veto by its components”, they affirm. 

And they also point out that

the budget of about 600 to 700 million that Isaac and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Juan Martín Paleo, have to buy from 12 to 30 and 40 planes, is not to receive “empty

” F16s. unarmed as initially offered.

They want them armed and state-of-the-art.

Argentine air force mission in China to test JF-17 Thunder aircraft.

In the photo, General Zárate, the force attache, and Ambassador Sabino Vaca Narvaja with the delegation that received them in Chedou

All this difficulty for Argentina to supply itself in the western market is one of the consequences of the 1982 war. The British embargo prevents sales of military equipment.

It was reinforced by the tensions with Cristina Kirchner in 2012. 

This prevented the sale of aircraft negotiated with Sweden, with South Korea and even other issues such as spare parts for Navy ships.

Today the Air Force only has a few obsolete A-4 Fightinghawks, and the locally produced IA 63 Pampa, which Taiana is using for the militarization of the southern border.



has already anticipated , Washington is holding talks with London so that the F16s are not vetoed on the condition that the Argentines do not resort to Chinese aircraft.

Whether they have British components or not, Washington agrees on their sales to Argentina with their allies.

They did it when they sold the Texan 6 here.

In parallel they send their messages.

After the "warnings" of the Chinese presence by General Laura Richardson, chief of the fleet of the Southern Command of the United States, the legislator of the Republican Party, María Elvira Salazar, affirmed in a harshness in a congressional hearing that The Argentine government planned to build a factory here for Chinese fighters for export to the region and said that such a

"devil's pact" could have "consequences of biblical proportions."

He said: “I am going to use this forum to send a message to the Argentines, specifically to the vice president (Cristina Kirchner).

I want to do it in Spanish, because maybe they won't listen to you and maybe they will listen to me.

To warn them that if they decide to build an aircraft factory, Chinese war fighters, it is a very bad idea for them, and for everything that has to do with the relationship with the US.

Richardson, for his part, issued a harsh warning to Washington about a China that excites "desperate" leaders due to the deterioration of the economy and "continues to expand its economic, diplomatic, technological, informational and military influence" in Latin America through "investment practices predatory”.

In addition to noting its presence through the so-called Silk Road - of which Argentina is a part - in "projects related to "space, telecommunications and deep-water ports", he referred to its presence in the strategic triangle of the lithium, shared by Argentina, Bolivia and Chile

The woman's statements are based, among others, on the statements of Vaca Narvaja himself that fueled the versions that China is close to closing the sale of the FJ-17 Block 3 with Argentina, which is that it is the updated version of this effective and light aircraft, plus a whole package that includes weapons, armored vehicles, and the beginning of a relationship that would represent a change in the Argentine military doctrine regarding aviation, always linked to the Americans and Europeans.

An F16 at the base in Florence, Belgium.

There is no similar Chinese presence on the mainland.

Neither in Brazil, which also has its own military industry, nor in Chile, which continues to increase its military relationship with the United Kingdom.

But as recognized by the South China Morning Post newspaper, which quotes statements by Sabino Vaca Narvaja, that country is competing to fill the combat vacuum of the Argentine Air Force where the F16 Danish Americans and the HAL Tejas from India are now competing. After all, the most neutral country in the pressures that Beijing and Washington have been exerting on the Argentine force.

With the war progressing in the Ukraine, here they discarded the MIG-35s, from Russia, which never generated much enthusiasm.

The report says that Vaca Narvaja met with representatives of China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation last November to discuss Argentina's purchase of JF-17s.

And that the Chinese and Argentine representatives discussed the possibility of co-producing the plane.

Some remember that the modern version of the Chinese aircraft has British ejection seats.

But for Chinese military diplomacy that is not a problem because they could be replaced by those of another version that are their own.

And they point out that the real problem in Argentina is not ideological or strategic, as Washington says, but economic, that they can pay for it.

The sources consulted insist over and over again "there is nothing" advanced.

And they remember with terror that Alberto Fernández already said, generating strong criticism, that they had other expenses ahead of them than buying planes.

Others affirm that what the president wanted to do was cool the signals to China, although Vaca Narvaja was in Buenos Aires, also with the President.

In this case, 161 armored vehicles will be purchased from Brazil for the Argentine Army and not from China.

They are called "Guarani".

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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