In spite of the current rough bilateral relation, Argentina is interested in purchasing refurbished F16 fighter bombers which the United States apparently is willing to comply with according to Saturday reports in the Buenos Aires press.
No details of the number of aircraft or money involved in the operation have been revealed but both sides have been negotiating "for some time now". Furthermore the current US administration is willing to grant Argentina similar conditions to those extended to allies or friendly countries which could mean a significant smaller down payment and soft credit for the operation. Apparently the Argentine Defence Ministry has the F16 top of the options list, in spite of the recent offer of Mirage 2000 fighters by the French government. Only a fortnight ago a special envoy from French president Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated the offer from the previous administration of President Jacques Chirac: 12 Mirage 2000 for a total price of 90 million Euros. Apparently the French were told that Argentina is targeting the F 16 in spite of the fact that the Argentine Air Force has a long and battle proved experience with the Mirages during the South Atlantic conflict. The Buenos Aires press also reveals that two months ago representatives from Israel's air and space industry visited Buenos Aires offering an upgraded, multipurpose model of the US manufacture F16. The US proposal was "not that tempting", but since Argentina is expected to decide sometime towards the end of the first semester of next year, and a "military technical agreement" with the Pentagon is in the making, Washington seems to have the lead. Last week the US Congress liberated the sale of Sea King helicopters to Argentina. Argentina's military hardware dates back to the seventies when the Mirage fighter bombers were purchased. In the nineties under President Carlos Menem the US Navy sold Argentina 36 A4 Skyhawks to replace those lost during the 1982 Falklands conflict. But the lack of funds limited maintenance and many of the A4 are grounded. The US is interested in homologating the arms systems in the Southern Cone, following on the backbone of the Chilean Air Force F16 fighter bombers. For the US this would complement the Southern Cross (Cruz del Sur) spirit, a battalion made up of Argentine and Chilean servicemen "which is considered an example of reconciliation and confidence building" between two neighboring countries that almost three decades ago were on the verge of an armed conflict. Tanks begun rumbling and bombers were ready to take off when a desperate appeal from then Pope John Paul II convinced both military leaders (Generals Videla and Pinochet) to freeze the situation. Argentine and Chilean armed forces since the nineties are regularly involved in joint regional exercises and collaborate in United Nations peace keeping operations.
Top CommentsDisclaimer & comment rules
Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!