Argentina is negotiating the purchase of 12 to 18 HAL Tejas fighter jets with India

In recent years, and except for the case of the five Super Modern Etendards [SEM] procured from France, all of Argentina’s efforts to procure a new fighter to replace the Mirage IIIEA/DA and 5P Mara [retirés du service en 2015, ndlr] ended in failure. However, there is no shortage of potential prospects: takeover of former Mirage F1s from the Air & Space Force, purchase of Israeli Kfirs, cooperation with Brazil around the JAS-39 Gripen, exchange of agricultural materials against the Russian-made Su-24. Fencer”, etc.

However, in 2020, Buenos Aires seems to have finally found a solution by announcing the signing of an order for ten F/A-50 “Fighting Eagle” supersonic light fighters from South Korean manufacturer KAI.

Only since the Falklands/Malvinas War [1982], The United Kingdom opposes any sale of military equipment containing British elements to Argentina. And in the case of the F/A-50, London refused to grant export licenses for six key components [dont le siège éjectable]even if it means seeing Buenos Aires opt for a Russian or Sino-Pakistani style fighter, such as the JF-17 “Thunder”.

Moreover, the possible purchase of the latter has been the subject of rumors on several occasions. Rumors fueled by Argentina’s Ministry of Defence, for example, had requested an allocation of $664 million under the 2022 budget for the “JF-17 ‘Thunder’ Block III’ weapons system acquisition project… before finally changing its mind.

However, another line that seems serious is the purchase of fighter planes Tejas ACLs from the Indian manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL]. Indeed, contact between Buenos Aires and New Delhi has doubled in recent months.

So, recalls the economic daily El Cronista, in its July 17 issue, and for the third time in less than a year, a delegation from HAL recently met with the Minister of Defense of Argentina, Jorge Taiana as well as General Xavier Isaac, chief of staff of Fuerza Aérea Argentina. Apart from that, he also visited the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones facility [FAdeA], with a view to concluding a memorandum of understanding aimed at exploring possible cooperation in terms of maintaining in operational condition… the Lama helicopter, which is owned by the Argentinian and Indian troops. It was also signed on the sidelines of the air and space show at Le Bourget.

In any case, the acquisition of the Tejas fighter by Buenos Aires should be on the menu of Mr. Taiana to India at this time. Likewise with the LCH helicopter [Light Combat Helicopter] and Dhruv, also produced by HAL.

According to El Cronista, the negotiations concerned “a possible purchase of a batch of 12 to 18 aircraft [Tejas]funded by the National Defense Fund [Fondef], based on long-term financing contracts. And it’s also about how the British component is [dont le siège éjectable Martin Baker 16LG] can be replaced with parts made in India to avoid veto from London.

On the Indian side, we confirmed Buenos Aires’ interest in HAL Tejas. “The people in charge [indiens] said that Argentina now wants India to submit a formal proposal to them for the acquisition of 16 Teja fighters,” reported the Times of India on July 18.

Serena Hoyles

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