Five French-built warplanes Argentina bought under President Mauricio Macri for US $ 14 million have never taken to the air, due to which Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) and Fente de Todos (FdT) politicians are now trading pointing fingers.
The Argentine Navy maintains the five Super Etendard Modernise purchased in 2018 from the French navy that arrived with faulty parts.
According to press reports, those who witnessed meetings between Macri and Emmanuel Macron, said the French President kept pushing him to conclude the deal. Macri himself was reportedly baffled at Macron's out proportioned interest, compared to other issues in the common agenda.
In January 2017, Argentine Defense Minister Julio Martínez informed France's Ambassador to Buenos Aires Pierre Henri Guignard, that the country was interested in those units. In 2018 with 12.5 million euros were paid and the airplanes were delivered in May 2019.
After more than two years in Argentina, none of the planes has taken to the air and are kept in storage at the Comandante Espora Naval Air Base, in Bahía Blanca, alongside other Super Etendards deactivated due to lack of spare parts. According to TN, the new planes featured expired components and the Government of Alberto Fernández is still unable to find spare parts. The ejector cartridges in the pilots' seats have expired, which means that the safety of those who operate the units is not guaranteed.
The biggest drawback is that, although French-built, the Super Etendards have a Martin Baker ejector seat, which has British components, unavailable to Argentine military forces. Moreover, after two years grounded, other parts of the new airplanes have expired.
Sources close to former Defense Minister Oscar Aguad said the Mauricio Macri administration bought the planes knowingly because they were negotiating the purchase of spare parts from a US supplier in 2019, but by 2020 Macrism was no longer in power and nothing had been achieved.
According to the documentation provided by the Argentine Navy itself, the planes 'arrived in the country in 2019 with expired components and added: So far they have not been able to fly due to the lack of those components that replace expired materials and the impossibility to access others due to their British origin', TN said.
Under Defense Minister Jorge Taiana, Argentina is said to be looking for a local company that can produce those cartridges, but so far to no avail.
The five planes that Argentina bought from the French Navy have decades of service and, once they are ready to fly, they will only have a useful life of 10 years, TN published.
Along with the planes arrived 40 containers of spare parts and accessories, since the original idea was also to put into service the old Super Etendards the Navy already had.
“The idea was to give naval aviation 10 more years of life. A historic squad is about to die,” Argentine Navy sources quoted by TN said. (Source: TN)