Argentina could soon buy China's JF-17 "Thunder," an advanced fighter jet jointly developed with Pakistan and designed for export, APA reports citing Sputnik.
Argentina’s embassy in Beijing announced earlier this week that a group of defense officials led by Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Taiana had met with Argentine Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja to promote cooperation with Beijing on defense.
Among the cooperation being discussed is procurement of the JF-17 fighter jet and 8x8 armored vehicles from China, according to the embassy.
The JF-17 is a joint project made by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, making its debut in 2007. It is designed to be effective for its cost, which is half that of an F-16 but with roughly equivalent capabilities, aside from speed. It replaced much of Pakistan’s 1960s-era air fleet when it entered service, and has since been bought by Myanmar and Nigeria, with a number of other buyers in various stages of discussion.
Buenos Aires has been interested in the JF-17 since at least 2013, when it appeared at the Paris Air Show. Its efforts to buy aircraft from other makers have largely been frustrated by the United Kingdom, with which Argentina fought a war in 1982 over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands that failed to resolve the issue.
As a result, Argentina’s air force is heavily dependent on a heavily modified version of the A-4 Skyhawk, a 1950s-era US Navy fighter-bomber, that it has fitted with modern F-16 avionics.
Buenos Aires is reportedly considering other export fighters from several other sellers as well, including the HAL Tejas made by India; the Sukhoi Su-35 made by Russia; and second-hand F-16s being offered by Denmark, but originally made by General Dynamics in the United States.