The Argentine Defence Minister described the move as British “imperial pride” before posting “Malvinas Argentinas” on Twitter.

A letter received by the Argentine Defence Minister from aircraft manufacturers KAI reads:

“Dear Mr Ambassador,

Please accept our sincere appreciation for your interest in and attention to the FA-50 program.

As you may be aware the export of six (6) major components produced by UK suppliers for FA-50 is subject to the approval of the UK Government, which has arms embargo against Argentine in place. It is our regret to inform you that the UK export license issue is not resolved to date. Although KAI did not yet find a solution, KAI is making a reasonable endeavor to resolve this UK E/L issue.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Chun
Senior Manager & Chief
International Business Strategy Department”

Agustín Rossi, the Argentina defence minister, posted on Twitter (translated by Google Translate):

“We have been in dialogue with the Korean company KAI to purchase the FA 50 fighter aircraft for the FAA. Today, we are informed that Great Britain, which produces 5 components of the FA 50, prohibits the sale to our country. New sample of imperial pride. #MalvinasArgentinas”

Six major components, not five.

Additionally, I can’t help but think that tweeting “Malvinas Argentinas”, Spanish for ‘the Falklands are Argentine’, is not really helping his case. Surely all that does is validate the UK decision to block this sale?

What is the FA-50?

The FA-50 is a light combat aircraft manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the Republic of Korea Air Force. It is a light combat version of KAI T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft.

You can read more about the aircraft here.

What is the state of the Argentine military today?

Back in 2017, I wrote an article called ‘Argentina have ceased to be a capable military force due to cuts‘, pointing out that the Argentine air force had recently retired its Mirage fighters with only a handful of them even flyable. At the time, the country also confirmed that all their Lockheed Martin A-4AR Skyhawk fighters have been grounded and will not be replaced for the foreseeable future.

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 serviceable 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.

You can read more here.


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Levi Goldsteinberg

Some heart-lifting news. Cheers George


how could they afford to pay for them anyway?


Who knows what terms SK has offered them, could be a very long payment term with a high interest rate that benefits south korea in the long term.


Are we pushing for a trade agreement with South Korea? This hardly helps our case. It’s quite amazing to think that British components are part of the supply chain for a South Korean jet. I’m guessing at some point the argentines will buy some used Israeli jets or even old USAF F16s if they really want to reconstitute an AF

Supportive Bloke

Trouble with buying used is that you to pay cash up front.

Argentina may not have much military left primarily because they have no cash.


You shouldn’t be that surprised, the UK has one of the largest defence industries in the world. The UK defence industry has also realised that the ‘real’ money is in ‘Systems’ and ‘Systems integration’. You will be hard pressed to find any Western built fighter jet that doesn’t have some UK produced components or intellectual property. This leaves Argentina in a very difficult place even buying second hand and sustaining what they currently operate. Potentially they could do a Government to Government purchase and something like an FMS sale with the US or with France as has been done recently… Read more »


Do you think it risks pushing Argentina towards China & Russia? Even if they don’t wish to do so?

I can see China offering favourable loans & equipment in return for forward basing of some Naval assets in the Southern Atlantic. Look what they’ve been quietly getting up to in Africa.

Is it a little counter-intuitive? I find it likely it will let China in to the Atlantic through the back door, over time, and potentially revive a somewhat capable military for Argentina. Albeit in decades rather than years.


Geo-politics – What fun!


Argentina has flirted with buying from China, they have even partnered to assemble a Chinese built helicopter. So far nothing serious has come out of it. There was talk of an 056 Corvette purchase using Chinese loans but that appears to have been not very serious. There was some more serious examination of the JF-17 but the Argentine Air Force made unrealistic demands for Western avionics to be fitted.


Yes, I agree. Due to Argentina’s financial woes a loan from China might start looking more appetising. We have seen what happens to Nations once China has got them within a financial noose.

I really don’t see why we needed to block the sale of the K50s, they may be a good trainer/light attack aircraft, but would they seriously be capable of threatening the air defences of the Falkland’s?


No, they would not.
With their range we’d have to let them land and refuel after all the dogfighting.

Paul T

With or without these FA-50 Jets Argentina poses no Military Threat to the Falklands,they do however have the right to protect their own Borders and Sovereignty,and the biggest threat to that at the moment seems to be Chinese Fishing Trawlers.In the Interests of Trade and Goodwill i personally wouldn’t have a problem with this Sale.


I am inclined to agree. Compare how we handled Germany after the Second World War VS Argentina after 1982.

Complete/Further financial ruin of Argentina will leave a vacuum that China will likely fill… If anything we should be trying to bring them gently along with us.

FA-50 does nothing to threaten anyone, especially the Falkland’s.


The Argentinian’s have taken delivery of 4 decent OPV’s so their EEZ will be protected.

They’re French built L’Adroit Class OPV’s.

They’re also looking to get 3 P-3C from the US to replace their P-3B’s.

The rest of their Navy is on its last legs though.


I don’t see the value in extending ‘goodwill’ to a country that persists in making spurious claims on other people’s territory. That kind of behaviour needs to keep incurring a cost.

Paul T

The World today is completely different to the one in 1982 – yes Argentina still makes claims regarding the Falkland Islands but their Economy is still a Basket Case,their Politicians consistently use Rhetoric and Bluster because thats all they can do – their Armed Forces are in no state to even consider another Invasion attempt,that won’t change any time soon.There are more pressing needs for their attention today – the Falkland Islands not being one of them.


Quite so. It’s sad to see Argentines military at such a low but they must stop seeking to aquire British soveriegn territory. Argentina is a colonial construct itself & ruthlessly sought to exterminate the Patagonians in the early 1900s. So pot-kettle-black for them to claim we’re colonial.How much of their territories & peoples have they granted independance?
Falklanders have overwhelmingly rejected Argentine claims.

I think in another 20-30 years PRC will be seeking total world domination entirely on its brutal, uncompromising terms.


I think that is the risk. China and Russia will be jumping to supply Argentina in order to destabilise the region again. I would not be surprised if China effectively give away a load of jets to them in return for the use of bases (and effectively then owning Argentina).

Russia may well sell them some used aircraft on the cheap. I am not sure how good the FA-50 is but I imagine it would not be as good as some used Migs…


Hopefully Argentina realises what conditions cosying up to China typically comes with. They will lose control of Ports, airports, land and or resources. Russia may well be an alternative without such issues.

Patrick ONeill

That is exactly what could happen. The Chinese have huge investments in Argentina already and the Russians might do it just to cause trouble. Interesting that so far neither have, which suggests that the political and financial costs of dislocating their relations with the UK outweighs any benefit of selling a tiny number of jets.


Given the left wing, Peronista, anti-American government currently in power in Argentina, there is no way the US is going to approve the sale of F16s or any Israeli jets with US components to it. Besides the government is broke and incompetent.

Patrick ONeill

The Argentines have already attempted to purchase Israeli jets, but the Israelis stonewalled the request almost certainly because of the impact on their relations with the UK (we buy far more Israeli kit than Argentina ever will). They have tried to buy jets from various sources, including Saab Gripens, but most ‘Western’ designs have critical UK kit in them. Notably most designs use Martin-Baker election seats.

Peter S.

This is a good example of why the UK needs to retain/build sovereign capabilities. Access to replacements or spares is vital and should not be at risk of blocking by a foreign government.

HMS Monarch

Well said! It would be very concerning if a post-Brexit trade spat with Germany left the Boxer programme inoperable.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Or Joe Biden winning the US election and throwing a tantrum over Northern Ireland vis a vis Brexit stalling or stopping F-35 deliveries

Harry Bulpit

Given that we are a tier 2 nation, and manufacture I believe 15% of all F35. Even if he wanted to Biden couldn’t knock us out of the program without destroying it all together.


I believe we’re a tier 1


The Biden position on NI is reasonable all things considered. UK should have better considered that one before the vote!

Harry Bulpit

While true. Its ironic for a man who once supported the IRA, to start lecturing others on piece in Ireland.


Johnson has recently made someone a peer in the house of lords who has supported the IRA… I don’t think we are in a position to criticise…

Harry Bulpit

Well it’s a good thing I don’t much like politicians in general.

Alan Reid

“This is a good example of why the UK needs to retain/build sovereign capabilities”. I agree, Peter – and a good practical follow-up by you to our recent debate.


I have to be honest, I really think this was the wrong decision on the face of it. We all know that maintenance and thus operability of these aircraft are going to drop off pretty significantly due to the budget of the Argentine armed forces. Given the state of the rest of their military the addition of these aircraft is no increased threat to the Falklands at all. Blocking this serves a double negative purpose: It annoys the South Koreans, who we are seeking to improve relations with as part of our strategic shift east of Suez (particularly as a… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Under the previous Argentine government I could agree with your position. But the current government has been nothing but provocative on the issue and has caused a myriad of issues for the islanders. Appeasement is not going to resolve anything.


The truth is (and this is obvious in the brevity and very perfunctory tone of the letter) that this deal was dead in the water the minute someone in Argentina thought of it.

They never had the cash.

This is just the Korean’s politely ending any further speculation on a sale and saving themselves any time on having to respond to speculation and queries.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m inclined to agree with Rfn and Paul T. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer springs to mind. Even if Argentina is not really a true current enemy, what does this achieve other than giving more ammunition to the absolute waffle that comes from the likes of the Argentine DM.

Harry Bulpit

Unfortunately the current Argentin government is exceptionally antagonistic on the issue and has made it a major policy of it government. Therefore if they gained a fighter jet capacity they would like use them to intimidate the islanders. Could you imagine if they started approaching on to the islands airspace every other day or god forbid intercepted the RAF mpa aircraft? The current typhoon force would have to be reinforced which would only deepen hostilities. Its like not buying a naughty child a toy sword. He may start a tantrum in public, but it prevents you the head ach of… Read more »


But what if they get Chinese or Russian aircraft instead? They will be far more problematic than a glorified training aircraft….

Harry Bulpit

But they won’t. Russia could do with one less money sucking allie and Argentina and China are currently at odds over fishing.


And one way to fix the fishing dispute could be the supply of advanced aircraft. Russia don’t care about money sucking allies as they do not provide the promise of constant funding. They do however care about causing the UK, US and their allies, maximum problems and off loading a few second hand jets could indeed do that.

Alan Reid

Hi Daniele, Prior to 1982, the UK government’s policy towards Argentina was, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” ………. The UK sold Type 42 Destroyers, Canberra bombers, Blowpipe missiles – and 1, 000Ib bombs. All of which were used against UK forces in the subsequent conflict. We even tried to sell Argentina the Harrier! How the outcome of 1982 might have been different if there had been Argentinian Harriers deployed on its carrier – or stationed at Port Stanley airfield. I think the policy you describe is quite clever and sophisticated ……. but I don’t believe it’s appropriate… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Afternoon Alan.

Good points, well made.


We were selling everything to anybody back then. Remember we sold the Jet engine to Russia which they then used to shoot down our aircraft in Korea… The US is still very annoyed about that one to this day… However compared to selling state of the art destroyers, this sale would be for some pretty basic fighter aircraft that would not trouble our Typhoons. The alternative would be for them to potentially get far more advanced aircraft. Even during the Falklands we were possibly better off with them having UK and French equipment than Russian. At least that way we… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Lee, I understand your argument – but it’s worth putting the counter-point. If it can get away with it, Argentina will someday mount another attempt to occupy the Falklands – and its people. The sale of the Nene engine to the Soviet Union was in 1947. As you know, it was reverse-engineered and installed in MiG-15s against UN (including British and Commonwealth) forces in Korea. These advanced jet engines were sold despite a hardening of relations with Stalin. And later we sold arms to Argentina during the 1960s-1970s, despite Argentinian claims to the Falklands ramping-up. So it’s happened at… Read more »


With regard to the Neme, It was not sold for political means it was sold to make money against the political will and indeed against political common sense… The same was with regard to the UK sales to Argentina. However now, we have a couple of effective enemy countries that can and will be willing to supply far more advanced aircraft than the FA-50. The Russian had anti-ship missiles that were pretty good in the 1980s and certainly had SAM systems that were very advanced. In the end Argentina only had 7 Exocets and France helped make sure it stayed… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Lee, The Nene engine was sold to the Soviet Union with the support of the Ministry of Supply, and that of Sir Stafford Cripps – the Chancellor. And I’m pretty sure our major arms exports to Argentina, a fascist state, had government support – that’s the way it works. I feel it’s very unlikely that a right-wing Junta would have sourced arms from the Soviet Union. And I think two “Bears” briefly flew over the Atlantic Conveyor reinforcement group for 30 minutes while it was in international waters. Sophisticated sea-skimming anti-ship missiles supplied from the West gave the task-force… Read more »


I agree that it is a tricky situation. Russia flew a few aircraft over the task force and stayed there for a reasonable length of time. They were not being threatening but they were getting in the way of us understanding the picture as there were also Argentinian Aircraft flying over too which we wanted to intercept and shoot down but could not due to the Russian presence and the risk of things going wrong. Yes the Nene was agreed by the Government, that was not the point I was making. The Government agreed to it for financial rather than… Read more »

Emanuel Laudonio

That is due a sistematic, brainwash from Kids the school tel you that Malvinas are us, then our history says that some citizens were kick out in 18 century by England (maybe true, but if I have Asado in my refrigerador I am not thinking in the 18 century) , then we have the diavolic goverment in 80making a war (Maybe USA tel to the MILITARY goverment hey make a war Thatcher is not going to do nothing.. My good facepalm… .) , I think if we stop claiming and open the diogue we can make excelent New relationship, and… Read more »

Alan Reid

Thank you Emanuel for your very interesting post. I very much agree that Argentina and the UK should be friends. For me, it’s not about ownership of the land – I simply feel the wishes of the local people should be respected. I also agree that if the Argentinian government tries to make friends with the Falkland Islanders – and gains their trust – it’s the best way to fulfil your wish of sovereignty over the Falklands/Malvinas. If the local people one day democratically decide to become part of Argentina, the UK won’t stand in their way. I hope you… Read more »

Darren hall

Four questions.
a.Stopping a ”potential enemy state” from buying advanced aircraft…
b. Could this damage a potential trade deal with the ROK?
c. Would the Argentines be able to use these effectively against our forces at a ”future date”?
d. Could the Argentines be able to maintain them effectively?
a. Good news
b. A handful of jets, or a trade deal with the UK… hmmm, that’s an easy one…
c. effective or ineffective use, still constitutes a danger.
d. why take the chance.

Harry Bulpit

Korean is currently supporting Argentina financially. As such any money they would have gained in the sale will be spent on another Korean product. If Korean was generally concerned about selling this item to Argentina they would have kicked up a fuss by now.

4th watch

Argentina has Lithium reserves and natural gas so eventually they will get on top of their debt but unlikely under present government.


It has to get hold of its rampant corruption to have any chance of getting out of its problems. That is going to take more than simply a change of Government. It is a shame to see to be honest it is a once great country that has fell into many problems and the lack of any leadership has meant that they bring up the Falklands in order to divert the attention from their own domestic mess.

Darren hall

Sad but too true, Lee.
And some of the population will believe them…

Gavin Gordon

Interesting. On the face of it a very principled decision, particularly factoring the crass twitter comment of an Argentinean ‘politician’. Among other things, the potential US input into this aircraft can easily range from motive power through weapon systems and presumably more. Would the UK likely have vetoed without the knowledge of other major contributors who, like us, are very keen to keep the Chinese influence to a minimum? Something the average Argentinan is less troubled over, I believe. One trusts it signifies an indication of traditionally subtle British diplomacy. It represents a good, confident call in the face of… Read more »


Or, Argentina could agree to sit around a table with the UK and Falkland Island representatives/government and come a solution that suits all sides. But, because they refuse to take into account the views of the people that have occupied the island for some considerable time, they will always be at odds with the UK and its interests abroad.


There is no solution that suits all sides. They want ownership of islands that have never belonged to them… We refuse to allow that to happen.

Mr Bell

They should not even be considered for any ownership. Full stop. They tried by military force to invade and occupy a sovereign uk overseas territory occupied by Falklanders who have lived there since the 1800s. The islanders have a right to self determination, liberty and democracy. The Argentians have NO right to try to impose their will on the islands. If they want more territory they could just make territorial claims against Chile? Try invading or conquering a part of Chile Same principle. If they turn to China or Russia for military hardware then more fool them. I dont think… Read more »


They have indeed tried that with Chile they planned on invading Chile before the Falklands war, Argentina claim all of Tierra del Fuego despite signing treaties regarding the border. This is a major reason Chile helped the UK so much during the Falklands war.

Mr Bell

The Faklanders have not “occupied” the islands at all. They’ve been there since 1833. That’s not an occupation that is simply making the island their homes.


Indeed, the islands have never been Argentinian.


If the Argentinian military (air/land&sea) is in such a poor condition – then why not use this as a bargaining chip instead? It seems like there’s the potential to profit from the situation – since the Argentines aren’t likely to be even a remote threat for decades.


Will UK Defence Journal write a story on Trump permitting F22 sales to Israel??
Can’t wait to read the comments on that one.


Its only rumour though isn’t it? I cannot see this happening whether or not Trump gets back in. The production line closed years ago so they would have to sell existing USAF aircraft. I believe I am right in saying that all arms sales have to be notified to Congress within 30 days of their approval by the DOD and State Dept. That would be a tough one to pass Congress whichever party is in control of it. Partly because it would be selling prime USAF assets but also because Israel (allegedly) sold information to China which they used to… Read more »

Martyn Parker

The Americans can’t afford to restart the F22 line, I very much doubt that the Israeli’s could


I know the Argentine’s want a modern western fighter but since everyone is blocking them why not just buy some Russian SU-30 or something? Would be a huge improvement over what they are flying now.


Probably the maintenance costs of the things.


i thought Malvinas was a french word


FA-50?…. also known as Typhoon fodder!!