Military Aviation

Argentina Selects KAI FA-50 as Interim Fighter

A senior FAA officer with direct knowledge of the planned procurement said he expects the government to sign off on the planned FA-50 procurement “in the near future”, with deliveries to commence shortly after.

Jane’s reports that Argentine has selected the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 as its new interim fighter. A senior officer from the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina – FAA) says the deal is expected to go through despite elections in October this year.

A senior FAA officer with direct knowledge of the planned procurement said that the supersonic, twin-seat light fighter and attack aircraft has been selected following an evaluation that started in September 2016.

The officer, who requested not to be identified as the deal is not finalised, expects the government to sign off on the planned procurement “in the near future”, with deliveries to commence shortly after.

Argentine national media has reported an anticipated deal for 10 aircraft.

The FAA needs to replace the Dassault Mirage III and Mirage 5 fleets that were retired in late 2015, and the ageing Douglas A-4R Fightinghawk fleet that is proving increasing difficult and costly to maintain hence why the service is pressing to buy a new fighter jet.

An Argentine delegation first visited the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) 16th Fighter Wing at Yecheon on Sep. 7, 2016, when an FAA pilot tested a TA-50 Golden Eagle operational trainer variant of the FA-50.

As already reported, since then talks on high government level are being held in secrecy. Two aircraft should even arrive this year already, with the remainder next year. The USD 200 million deal would be paid off in ten years; basically a loan or credit line is needed. With a total external debt of over USD 275.000 million, it is difficult for Argentina to get such a deal financed.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir, the Dassault Mirage F.1, the Alenia M-346FT, the Aero L-159 ALCA, the CAC FC-1/PAC JF-17 Thunder, the Saab Gripen, early-model Eurofighter Typhoons, and the Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer’ (although this is widely believed to have been a hoax) were other fighter types shortlisted by the FAA.

Photo credit: Republic of Korea Armed Forces

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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