Argentine investigative reporter Jorge Lanata, loathed by the current government of president Cristina Fernandez for his disclosure of the close business links of certain unscrupulous entrepreneurs (or most probably straw-men) who have become millionaires during the Kirchner years, has now exposed the 'calamitous' state of the Argentine armed forces equipment.
For that purpose Lanata and his program Journalism for All travelled to the socially devastated and poverty stricken Haiti, where 400 members of the Argentine forces are stationed as peace contingents under United Nations command.
The Argentine troops in Haiti allegedly complained that they lack bullet proof jackets and the ordnance they have has expired. But according to Lanata despite the Haiti experience, outdated aircrafts and navy vessels that sink while berthed; the government of Cristina Fernandez spends generously in 'non-justified' intelligence gathering to the tune of approximately 76 million dollars, to which must be added undisclosed confidential sums, which are not monitored.
In effect, the Argentine congress intelligence committee made up of members from both houses has ample majority of Kirchnerite members and so far this year have not met once. Furthermore at the end of last year, vice-president Amado Boudou signed a decree increasing intelligence funds for the Army in approximately another 150 million dollars.
The head of the Army is an intelligence officer, Cesar Milani, who has pending court cases related to alleged human rights abuses while a junior officer, including the death of a conscript.
Lanata then mentions that neither the Air Force or the Navy are prepared for the defense of Argentina. Two situations help to illustrate what is happening with the Argentine Navy: the icebreaker Almirante Irizar and pride of Antarctica research has been in repairs since 2007 when it caught fire. It was expected to be back at sea in 2011 but remains unfinished in the Tandanor shipyard. A chartered replacement Russian vessel has cost Argentina so far, anywhere from 50 to 72 million dollars and when Irizar is again sailing it would have demanded an investment of 120 million dollars.
The situation of submarine San Juan is not much different: it has been in repairs for over five years; it was to be back in 2011 but refuses to emerge from the naval base in Mar del Plata.
For the Air Force conditions are equally discouraging, according to the report. There are only 28 combat aircraft in flying conditions, and the 'newest' are five Mirage, not all of them operational and which will have to be decommissioned quite soon.
If during a parade you see a wing of ten military aircraft, it does not mean the ten are in combat condition points out Horacio Jaunarena, a former Defense minister.
Lawmaker Julio Martinez revealed that during Argentina's bi-centennial celebrations, the government decided to cancel the overfly of the Air Force fearing the risk of the obsolete aircraft over Buenos Aires.
Transport aircraft such as the Hercules are running out of flying hours, need maintenance and are used to supply troops in Haiti and the Antarctica bases.
Finally, according to Lanata, in 1990 when Cristina Fernandez daughter Florencia was born, Israel took its Kfir fighters from the first line of combat to the reserve.
Those aircraft are the ones the Argentine government has pledged to purchase as the latest Argentine combat aircraft, concludes Lanata's report.