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Argentina is expected to sign a contract today covering the purchase of 14 Kfir Block 60 fighters.

The Argentine air force have opted to acquire upgraded examples of the Israel Aerospace Industries-produced combat aircraft, which have been non-operational for two decades, most analysts consider them largely obsolete.

The Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir is an Israeli built multirole combat aircraft based on a modified French Dassault Mirage 5 airframe, with Israeli avionics and an Israeli-built version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.

IAI had been offering a Block 60 version of the roughly 40-year-old Kfir design, powered by a GE Aviation J79 engine. The company says the powerplant will be supplied in a “zero-hour” condition after a complete overhaul, with replacement required after 1,600 flight hours.

The jet will also be fitted with an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a relatively potent sensor system.

This comes after a significant period of decline in which the Argentine armed forces ceased to be a capable military force. In August 2015, the Argentine air force retired its Mirage fighters, with only a handful of them even flyable.

The problems don’t stop there, their submarine crews despite benefiting from a recent upgrade, need at least 190 days of immersion practice and in 2014 only spent 19 hours submerged. A similar situation is faced by their four destroyers, they don’t have any weaponry.

Argentine ground forces rarely have the resources for training and are vastly under equipped, their kit dates back to the 70’s and is in very short supply. In addition to this, the Argentine Air Force largely consists of a collection of obsolete aircraft mostly dating back to the 1970’s, which are frequently grounded due to poor serviceability. They’re now even getting rid of their only semi-capable fighter aircraft.

According to IHS Janes

“The Argentine Air Force is drastically cutting staff working hours and decommissioning its last fighter aircraft amid continuing budget issues.

A recently published daily agenda indicates that the service’s working hours have been significantly reduced, from 0800 to 1300; rationing of food, energy consumption, and office supplies has been directed headquarters staff and property residents; and only the minimum personnel required to staff headquarters, directorates, and commands are working.

These orders, issued on 11 August, take effect 18 August. A next step will cut Monday and Tuesday as working days. Moreover, air force officials said any aircraft taken out of service will not undergo maintenance for now.”

This left the Argentine military with just two types of jet aircraft A-4’s and IA-63’s and both are subsonic, decades old and barely serviceable. Argentina had looked into buying new Gripen’s from Sweden via Brazil but this was vetoed by the United Kingdom which makes a large number of internal components for the aircraft. They had also looked at JF-17’s from China, but the JF-17s proved too expensive to modify.

The acquisition will see it join Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka in operating the Kfir.

68 COMMENTS

  1. Let them buy kit thats obsolete as theres little to no chance they would even try to attack the falklands again they have far to many internal problems let alone zero military capabilities these days.

    • I feel sorry for ourselves (i’m argentinian). we should put this money into feeding poor people, or investing it in better technology instead of buying crap we don’t need. Our military is decadent, this purchase is unnecessary

  2. beautiful aircraft… but pretty obsolete now…
    they are what? Gen 3/3.5 aircraft?

    I’m more surprised Israel still had any Kfir’s in storage. they Phased Kfirs out of service quite some time ago

  3. I don’t get why people are so scared of Argentina getting jets, there is nothing much they can do with them. As we know from Syria etc, you can’t do much with planes and no boots on the ground. They can be annoying and limit our ability to reinforce the island but that’s it.

    It is getting troops across to the island, without our type 45 destroyer sinking them, which will stop any realistic attempt to take the island. Well that and hopefully some common sense that no one wants war.

    If they find a way to take out the destroyer or we take it off station, then things change, as we have no anti-ship weapons in place on the island.

  4. Mach 2 capable fighter, can carry AIM 9 Sidewinders and Python missiles. They may even be able to carry the Derby which is by all accounts just an AMRAAM 120. All aspect launch capable including to the rear.

    It might be old, but there are worse aircraft they could buy.

  5. @ Steve… Don’t we have a nuke sub down there now as well ? I seem to remember one being sent not that long ago. Argentina complained about its deployment. If I was on a ship I’d be more worried about the sub than the destroyer.

  6. That old chestnut again, this deal has been on the cards for at least 2 years. Not good for Anglo Israeli relationship, and if the US government will allow spare parts to be sold to them as well. If this deal goes ahead.

  7. It HAS been cancelled, i can tell you from good sources, it wasn’t gonna happen anyways, another president will be taking power in 2 weeks, with total diferent agendas on Defence

  8. I was thinking, the tornado is hardly cutting edge and yet its still our most effective bomber.

    If they can put some beyond visual range missiles on these planes and some anti-ship ones, then it might not be such a clear cut thing between these and the typhoons. Ultimately the missiles do most of the work these days in regards to air to air combat.

  9. Reading some of these comments,sounds like some of you Brit’s are realy concerned about the Argies invading the Falklands again,I doubt that will ever happen in the near future,I’m sure they enjoy and prefer to kick your royal ol butts on the rugby field 🙂

  10. It doesn’t take that many obsolete jets to overrun MPA if they can launch a surprise attack and close the runway, if the runways goes, no reinforcement. I appreciate there old, and it’s not the alleged Fencer deal with Russia, but any upgrade to their rundown air force isn’t good and this is a bit out of order for a friend of the UK. One wonders how Israel would react if we sold 14 Jaguars to Hezbollah?

    • Tbf the relationship between Argentina and the UK is a tad different to that between Israel and Hezbollah: full diplomatic ties, both members of G20, etc etc. And Im sure the US wouldn’t think twice about selling a couple of aircraft if the Argentinians asked.

      • The relationship is different now, but back in 1982 Israel were quite happily shipping jet loads of materiel to the Junta (on credit), and not their normal export models either, the IAF models.

        They tried to do it on the quiet, which turned out very badly when British Embassy staff in Peru spotted them while the planes were being refuelled and made it very public.

  11. @Nico Malan

    I don’t think anyone is overly concerned about a 2nd war, but it is dangerous to ignore the issue when it has happened before and it happened in relatively recent history. In addition the reasons for the last war have not gone away, Argentina still want the island and their country is still in a pretty major economic mess (as is ours but less so). The last war was basically an excuse by both governments to move the stories away from home grown issues.

    Luckily Argentina currently has a democracy and the normal people are friendly rational people, what no desire for war, and prefer to beat us in sport and be a major trading partner.

    However as we know from history, a country with huge economic problems is at risk of losing its democracy, and then the wishes of the people get ignored, and so the mentality of hope for the best prepare for the worst is the best one.

  12. As a matter of interest, I’m pretty sure that Kfirs use Martin Baker ejector seats (there are two Colombian Kfir pilots who are now members of the Ejection Tie Club (numbers 5858 and 5869) following a couple of engine failures).

    Might that complicate the sale? Or are they going to rip them out and install Russian ejector seats (Argentina are boycotting MB seats in their domestic aircraft production as they are too British)? How would that work with the Israelis?

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