The Government of Argentina is planning to send a military team to China in March to broker the purchase of combat aircraft, for which over US $ 600 million have been allocated as per the 2022 Budget bill, it was reported.
Argentina is said to be considering five offers, with China's JF-17 Thunder-Block III topping the list following President Alberto Fernández's recent meeting in Beijing with Xi Jinping, Infobae said. The South American country was planning to purchase some 12 units of that model, the newspaper also said.
Buenos Aires' ambassador to Beijing, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, has already held meetings with the Chin National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), to move on with the negotiations, the report added.
The 2022 Budget also features some US $ 20 million for the purchase of additional equipment, such as flight simulators, Infobae said.
Argentina is also planning to buy 8x8 vehicles for the Army, a polar ship for the Antarctic campaigns and rescue helicopters. However, none of the estimates specified details of origin, brand and model of the equipment, while it was just the opposite regarding the Chinese aircraft.
According to Infobae, China is interested in supplying Argentina with the modern JF-17, which could open the door to future arms deals with other countries in the region.
Negotiations in this regard date back to 2015, but were put on hold under President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), who instead chose to buy obsolete units from France. (Read also Argentine Navy warplanes still grounded due to lack of British-made spare parts)
Vaca Narvaja also met with Jiao Kaihe, president of China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO), a Chinese state-owned company with which Buenos Aires is working on a project that includes the possible acquisition of 88 armored vehicles as well as the creation of a production unit in Argentina. The Argentine government wants NORINCO to share technologies and develop a dual-use vehicle manufacturing unit.
China offered Argentina tanks and planes that its Armed Forces no longer use.
Argentina's Defense Ministry said the purchase of South Korean-built fighter aircraft was also under consideration. (Source: Infobae)