BUENOS AIRES: Argentina is planning to buy 12 JF-17A Block-III fighter jets from Pakistan. The reports surfaced after the Argentinian government proposed a $664 million allocation in its budget for the year 2022 presented before the national parliament.
The proposal for allocation does not mean that the deal has been closed because the sale contract is yet to be signed. However, it does show that JF-17 is being preferred by Argentina over the various options that have been under consideration.
The budget has been presented in the country’s parliament, said the news report. However, this does not mean that the deal has been finalised as Argentina has not signed on the sale accord yet but it shows the country’s intention to buy the fighter aircraft from Pakistan.
Argentina has been considering this purchase since last year after Britain blocked its previous attempts to procure aircraft from other sources. The UK has been maintaining the embargo on Argentina since the Falklands War in 1982.
Buenos Aires has since 2015 tried to purchase fighter jets from Sweden and South Korea, but both sellers backed down because of British pressure.
Argentina had in 2015 tried to acquire Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets. Later, it remained interested in South Korean FA-50 Fighting Eagle.
The ejector seat in JF-17 jets built by UK has also remained a point of contention in the sale of the aircraft to Argentina.
The other complication in Argentina’s search for fighter jets for its air force has been the shortage of funds for going after costlier options. Argentinian Air Force was significantly depleted in 2015 when it retired its aging fleet of Dassault Mirage III interceptor aircraft, which till then served as its backbone.
JF-17 Thunder is an advanced, light-weight, all weather, day / night multi-role fighter aircraft, developed as a joint venture between the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra, and the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation of China.
The PAC says it possesses excellent air-to-air and air-to-surface combat capabilities. The state-of-art avionics, optimally integrated sub-systems, computerised flight controls and capability to employ latest weapons provide decisive advantage to JF-17 over adversaries of same class, it further says.
Argentina has tried to buy jets from a few other countries in the world over the past couple of years but has always fallen short due to a lack of funds or British objections.
Most recently last year, Britain blocked the sale of South Korean fighter jets to Argentina. The Argentine Defence Minister described the move as British “imperial pride” before posting “Malvinas Argentinas” on Twitter.
According to the UK Defence Journal, the JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China.
The builders say that the JF-17 can be used for multiple roles, including interception, ground attack, anti-ship, and aerial reconnaissance.
More than half of the JF-17 airframe, including its front fuselage, wings, and vertical stabiliser, is produced in Pakistan, whereas 42 percent is produced in China, with the final assembly taking place in Pakistan.