Argentina will be receiving in a few weeks time five refurbished Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard (SEM) fighter bombers decommissioned from the French navy. The 13 million Euro purchase also includes a flight simulator, engines and spares and are currently sailing across the Atlantic en route to Bahía Blanca.
However the dispatch is at least six months late. The Super Etendard were supposed to be ready to fly and air patrol for last December's G20 summit in Buenos Aires which convened world leaders, president Donald Trump, president Xi, Russia's Putin, PM Theresa May, France's Emmanuel Macron among others. It was a French gift to save the honor of Argentina's dilapidated armed forces equipment deficit, but each leader brought its own security system, while the Argentine and French bureaucracies sorted out the packaging and shipment.
The refurbished Super Etendard are an advanced version of the Argentine navy fighter bombers that played a distinguished role during the 1982 Falklands' conflict, but purchased in the late seventies, those surviving ended decommissioned. Argentina purchased at that time 14 SPs and some of them arrived after the Falklands' conflict.
The five Super Etendard refurbished were loaded this week in France and are in route to Argentina. Besides the aircraft there are spares and a flight simulator to train our pilots, reported earlier this week the Argentine ministry of defense.
The Super Etendard were decommissioned by the French navy in 2016, they can be refueled in the air and are apt for naval combat but also for bombing targets on land. They are 14.3 meters long, with a wing span of 9.6meters, fully loaded and ready for combat they weight 11.500 kilograms, flying at a maximum speed of 1.400kmph at a top altitude of 13.700 meters, and autonomy of 800kms.
They are equipped with two 30mm cannons, bombs, four launchers with 18 rockets each, plus six missiles.
Once in Argentina the five aircraft will be taken to the navy's air wing workshop Comandante Espora, Bahía Blanca to prepare them to fly and train pilots, which will also take several months. Navy sources advanced they are hoping to recover with the coming spares some of the decommissioned aircraft.
France has been quite generous with Argentina, not only have they supplied the five Super Etendard, but also an ocean patrol vessel, to be employed in helping combat illegal fishing in the South Atlantic. The modernized used unit is in anticipation of the three ocean patrol vessels ordered by Argentina from France's Naval Group, and which construction has only started.