Argentina's Antarctica Logistics Pole to be built in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, at the current naval base will be totally financed, managed and autonomous, no strings with any of the leading powers in the ice continent and intended to compete with the Falkland Islands and the Chilean complex of Punta Arenas, as the gate to Antarctica.
According to political analyst Martin Di Natale quoting Argentine defense, foreign affairs and scientific sources, it is one of the most ambitious military projects of recent years, based on a geopolitical strategy which is expected to begin operating sometime next year and includes the re-launching of the Petrel Base in the Antarctic continent.
Defense minister Jorge Taiana has created a Follow Up Unit of the Ushuaia Base project, which will demand an initial investment of some US$ 140 million, which will be a strategic supply station from Tierra del Fuego, and together with Petrel will become a strategic center to ratify the presence of Argentina in the south Atlantic.
The project will be entirely financed by Argentina since the country can't be tied to a foreign State in the development of a military base with strategic and future projections, since we don't want questioning from any of the powers. It will a supreme balancing act between the presence of the United States, and the offerings from Russia and China in the South Atlantic, ” argued minister Taiana.
Argentina has cozy relations with Russia and China. It was among the first countries to trust the Covid 19 Sputnik vaccine and China among other things has helped foreign currency short Argentina, with a 20 billion dollars equivalent swap at central banks' level.
A controversy emerged when allegedly Tierra del Fuego governor Gustavo Melella was prepared to lobby for China in the project in exchange for investments in the province.
However Taiana rejected point blank the initiative and recalled that funds for the project will be coming from the Defense Fund, created by law and which contemplates a 0.5% of certain revenue funds from the annual national budget, which represented some US$ 350 million this year. The percentage will gradually increase to 0,8% in 2023.
The project includes a 150 meters jetty with docking facilities both for military and civilian vessels, including cruises. Works are scheduled to begin next March and by the end of 2022, should be operational. Most of the personnel will be from the Argentine Navy.
The other leg of the project is the re-launching of the Petrel base in Antarctica as the link between Tierra del Fuego and the ice continent. In winter the base has some twenty personnel but soars to almost a hundred in summer with scientists and military staff. Upgrading and expanding Petrel has already started.
Another issue mentioned by Di Natale is that Taiana is strongly lobbying for a replacement of the lost submarine ARA San Juan.