Argentina's Air Power Dilemma: F-16s, Tejas, and a Difficult Decision

Argentina's Air Power Dilemma: F-16s, Tejas, and a Difficult Decision


The Argentine government finds itself caught in a complex web of financial constraints and geopolitical pressures as it seeks to bolster its aging Air Force (FAA).

Decades of underinvestment and the lingering consequences of the Falklands/Malvinas War have severely limited Argentina's options in its urgent pursuit of modern fighter jets.

A Legacy of Limitations​

The forced retirement of the Mirage III fleet in 2015 marked a significant turning point for the FAA, leaving the dependable but outdated A-4AR Fightinghawk as its primary air defence asset.

While promises of military revitalization are made by successive administrations, the reality of Argentina's economic woes casts a long shadow on any ambitious plans.

The most notable obstacle Argentina faces is the British arms embargo, restricting the sale of UK-manufactured military equipment or equipment containing British parts.

This effectively shuts down many procurement avenues, such as the thwarted acquisition of South Korea's KAI FA-50 light fighter. Even India's proposal for the HAL Tejas fighter jet hit a snag due to British components within the aircraft.

The F-16 Option and Fiscal Realities​

The United States has presented a compelling offer: 38 F-16 fighters, formerly in service with Denmark, complete with logistical support and a weapons package.

This proposal seems to tick many boxes for Argentina's needs. However, the $338 million price tag poses a significant hurdle within the current economic climate. Argentina's struggle to find the necessary funds has stalled the decision-making process.

India's Tejas: A Potential Solution?​

India's offer to replace British components in the LCA-Tejas and support local manufacturing provides an alternative route for Argentina. This option's success rests heavily on Argentina overcoming its financial restrictions and demonstrating a clear commitment to procurement.

For India, the long wait for Argentina's decision impacts the export potential of its LCA-Tejas Mk1A fighter jets.

The Long Haul​

Argentina's fighter jet dilemma is a symptom of deeper economic and strategic issues the country faces.

Until fiscal stability is restored and a coherent long-term defence strategy is formulated, options like the F-16 or the LCA-Tejas will likely remain out of reach.

The future of the Argentine Air Force hangs in the balance, with international suppliers like India awaiting a definitive sign from Buenos Aires.
 
I hope that Indian-Govt will encourage (pressure) both IAF & IN to establish a JV to invest in:-
  1. TEDBF (ORCA)
  2. AMCA
This will insure Logistical synergy & Economy of Scales for Indian Military.

Similarly, Indian-Govt should encourage Indian Navy to invest in:-
  1. Additional 6 Kalvari-SSKs with DRDO's AIP system
  2. At least 12 Super-Kalvari SSKs with DRDO's AIP
 
I hope that Indian-Govt will encourage (pressure) both IAF & IN to establish a JV to invest in:-
  1. TEDBF (ORCA)
  2. AMCA
This will insure Logistical synergy & Economy of Scales for Indian Military.

Similarly, Indian-Govt should encourage Indian Navy to invest in:-
  1. Additional 6 Kalvari-SSKs with DRDO's AIP system
  2. At least 12 Super-Kalvari SSKs with DRDO's AIP
You do realise that defence procurement in India isn't exactly a case of the government encouraging or insisting on anything to the Armed Forces, right?

No, defence procurement in India generally proceeds with the Armes Forces highlighting their requirements in detail. Next, if government approval is given (by the DPB and the AoN by the DAC), vendors are reached out to with an RfP. Once the vendors reply, the technical evaluations are done, field trials are conducted, and price negotiations begin. Once the price negotiations end, the Armes Forces submit the results to the MoD, who will run them by other government agencies such as the Finance Ministry and the MEA. After all of this, if there is no opposition, the final DAC approval is given in the form of a formal announcement of the winner. Price negotiations may have been finalised by this point, or may be approaching their end. Once this approval is received, final negotiations on local production, ToT, price, delivery schedules, etc. are concluded, and the deal goes to the CCS for approval. Once the CCS approves (this is mostly a ceremonial step), the contract is signed with the vendors, and work begins.

Hence, the IAF and the IN can only highlight their requirements to the government after a detailed study. If a local design is being looked at, then the IAF and the IN will work with ADA and the WDB respectively to finalise the design, before moving on with the RfP and further approvals.

Whether or not a JV is to be established for the item is more of a government and the manufacturer's decision, and the Armed Forces only get to give recommendations in this.

Now, that said, coming to your SSK ideas:

You are proposing six more Scorpene-class boats over the nine we already have in service, under construction, or planned. That won't happen, since the 1999 plan called for two distinct designs to be procured under Projects 75 and 75I, with learnings from both going into Project 76.

I also believe you are highlighting Project 76 to be, as you call it, the Super-Kalvari. It isn't as easy as that it sounds. You can't just randomly add stuff to a design without knowing how exactly it was prepared in the first place. A lot of things need to change in these scenarios. Even so, Naval Group may not necessarily be too happy to share detailed design knowledge of the Kalvari-class. Moreover, even if they did (and given the Indo-French relationship, they just might ), you run into the issue I mentioned earlier: You can't just randomly upscale or significantly modify a design without doing a lot of stuff. Even the hull section insert for DRDO's AIP system that is planned for the nine Kalvari-class boats will require a lot of redesign work.
 
Argentina's main opponent is the UK. So its useless to buy old F16s. Besides, the US will not allow Argentina to defeat the UK.
Perhaps they can try the Saab Gripen.
 
What happened to tejas with brahmos-NG armamant. Thats only a viable option if Indian agencies can keep manufacturing cost low and volume high. Argentina should join brics
 
only barter deal and strategic support with America can play and win the contract for HAL
 
If there is war between india and Pakistan then you would see Tejas facing F 16 and JF 17 against Tejas and then it would be very easy for Argentina to make decision.
Doubt so. All deals primarily hinge on budget availability and need.
 
Argentina's main opponent is the UK. So its useless to buy old F16s. Besides, the US will not allow Argentina to defeat the UK.
Perhaps they can try the Saab Gripen.
UK has scores of F35 which will make mincemeat out of older F16 variants. J 39 too dosent stand a chance against F35 . They will be shot down like flies.
 
Argentina's main opponent is the UK. So its useless to buy old F16s. Besides, the US will not allow Argentina to defeat the UK.
Perhaps they can try the Saab Gripen.
It is impossible for Argentina to defeat UK.
Unlike 1982 - Falklands are well defended.
 
UK has scores of F35 which will make mincemeat out of older F16 variants. J 39 too dosent stand a chance against F35 . They will be shot down like flies.
Forget F35. The Typoons based on the Falkands will make mincemeat out of F16 and Grippen
 
India should keep trying to advertise and sell Tejas to them and keep reiterating the significant advantage it has compared to others. Many light jets don't have the high payload carrying capacity or a small and nimble fighter with a large use of composites which makes it even harder to detect by many radars and if they used radar absorbing paint then it will increase its stealth characteristics.

India can replace all of those British made components easily enough but the main attraction is that it's not a Chinese junk fighter jet which most are grounded because of the major problems, inferior technology, poor quality and unreliability by not doing what they claim it can do. Another main benefit is that we use a reliable, long lasting and fuel efficient USA F404 engine whereas the junk fighter uses the Chinese junk engine which has major problems, poor parts, faults, long servicing and lower flight time compared to what a GE engine can give.
There is a saying " don't keep flogging a dead horse"
How can HAL replace MB ejection seat?
 
Wishful thinking that Argentina would seriously consider Tejas.

India's offer is not grounded. It's buried 10 m underground.
 
And Argentina's economy is down. They are in no shape for confrontation.
Argy economy has been down for decades. Even if it ever recovers - they will not spend on defence - but to pay off massive international debt.
I don't understand why we keep pushing Tejas.
 

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