The Argentine Navy was once a thriving Navy that sought to enter the big leagues. His years of splendor were full of attempts to modernize and acquire resources that promised, not only to solve the defense problems that Argentina had then, but also to position itself as one of the most powerful navies in the region.
The Navy’s renovation project was tangible and modernization plans were devised that sought to cover all the forces involved in the defense of the country. By then, the Argentine Navy was on the prestigious cover of Proceedings magazine of the Naval Institute of the United States, as an example worthy of admiration.
By the 1980s, two last-generation Type 42 anti-aircraft destroyers had already been obtained in addition to four Meko 360 multipurpose destroyers. In addition, Argentina had been involved in the acquisition of up to eight submarines, of which two initially came from Germany. , and six that would be built in the national territory, including a TR-1700 that was to be transformed into a nuclear submarine.
However, the Falklands War halted modernization plans and subsequently the crisis of the 90s put in check all aspiration for greatness. But in the year 2000, the idea of recovering what started in the 80s arises and the Apollo Plan is launched.
The Apollo Plan Project arises from the need and the urgent appetite of the Argentine Navy to modernize and renew itself, and above all, to recover the perspectives of superiority that its Navy once held. Originally, the Apollo Plan, which promoted the incorporation of an aircraft carrier, a deployment vessel for emergencies and AAW ships, was thought to be completed by the year 2010, but the circumstances of economic crisis that shook the country after 2001 postponed compliance.
Thus, the General Staff of the Navy is forced to rethink the execution of the project and grant it a new date, 2020.
But history repeats itself, and again we are faced with a paradox. The process of renovation and modernization is slow and suffers from lack of budget. The submarines that remained from the golden era are still in the shipyard awaiting financing for completion. Of the goals set for the Apollo 2020 Plan, only a minimum percentage of them have been met to date and to some extent only partially.
No new combat units have been incorporated, and the lack of investment has caused that the MEKO 360 multipurpose destroyers and MEKO 140 corvettes, acquired in other times, have become obsolete compared to other last generation ships.
The naval retrofitting plan with the incorporation of submarines, and even a nuclear class, succumbs to the shipyard. It took Irizar an icebreaker almost a decade to be refurbished and modernized, having a severe impact on the Navy’s budget, which had no alternative but to delegate logistics to foreign contractors.
Only two years and two months separate us from 2020 and the assigned goals are far from being achieved. On the contrary, the Navy suffers from years of wear and lack of investment. There is a discourse of modernization and retrofitting from the Government, but in practice it is not perceived and what is observed is the lack of resources.
To achieve the goal set for 2020 you can only expect a miracle, however the question that underlies here is not if the Argentine Navy will finally be able to complete the objectives it once wanted to achieve, but to reflect on the true causes of the project’s stagnation.
The economic crises and the historical context play a fundamental role in the development and execution of our history, but we cannot ignore the embezzlement and the discourse of a frivolous ideology as the leading cause of the death of the Navy. Then, as critical thinkers we have to ask ourselves where we are going to direct our anger and resignation, and clarify if we were victims of our own ambition or victimizers of our dreams.