Argentina’s minister of Defence called on the UK “to sit and dialogue” over the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty and warned that the British military presence in the South Atlantic “is the only element that upholds the usurpation of that part of our national territory”.
Minister Arturo Puricelli made the statements during a ceremony in Cordoba where the light jet-fighter Pampa II, totally designed and manufactured in Argentina (with the exception of the engine) was officially presented to authorities and visiting officials from Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia.
Puricelli said that Malvinas history and events favour Argentina’s case and underlined Argentina will continue to insist with its claim before all international organizations until the British government finally accepts negotiations.
“Once again I’m calling on the UK to sit at the table so that we can discuss Malvinas sovereignty” said Puricelli who also praised the commitment of President Cristina Fernandez towards the Armed Forces and the continuity of the defence policies since their implementation back in 2003.
The event also marked the 100th anniversary of the Argentine Military Aviation School and was supported by a parade of a 1.500 strong ground force which came from barracks all over Argentina plus a couple of hundreds of Malvinas war veterans.
Before the air demonstration of the new Pampa II and by-passes from Brazilian, Uruguayan and Chilean aircraft and the parade, there was a special remembrance for the 55 Argentine pilots and 61 aircraft knocked out by the British forces during the 1982 conflict in the Falklands.
The AT-63 Pampa II painted in sky blue and with a yellow Southern Cross identification in the tail is an improved version of the Pampa I and mainly designed for training and acrobatics: it carries a maximum weapons and ammo payload of 1.600 kilos, which is an advance over 1.60 kilos from Pampa I. The engines are supplied by Honeywell in the United States.
The air demonstration included Argentine Air Force Hercules, Mirages, Saab 340 and Russian manufactured helicopters followed by Uruguayan Pucará, Brazilian Tucanos and the Chilean Air Force Falcons Extra 300 squadron. The AT-63 Pampa II led the air show escorted by four AI-63 Pampa.
Following the demonstration the new aircraft landed next to the stand where all the authorities were watching and the two pilots paid their respects to Minister Puricelli and the different commanders and visitors.
Currently the Argentine Air Force has three Pampa II, two of them are in Mendoza and the third was used for the exhibition. At the end of the year the performing Southern Cross acrobatics squadron should have completed four and by 2016 the Air Force is scheduled to count with forty.
The aircraft was fully designed and manufactured at the government’s Argentine Aircraft Manufacturers, FA de A, plant in Cordoba which in 2005 started a process of recovery and refurbishing ordered by former president Nestor Kirchner who was determined to develop a defence industry in Argentina.
“Stop wasting ink and don’t get confused: we are not neglecting defence or the armed forces: since 2003 we’ve recovered the aircraft manufacturing plant and have started in line production of the Pampa model; we have also recovered shipyards, and have increased military pay”, underlined Puricelli.
The only top official absent from the ceremony was Cordoba governor Jose Manuel De la Sota who is suing the central government (as has done the neighbouring province of Santa Fe) for retaining payment cheques and causing serious financial distress to the local government.