The current situation in Argentina caused by the COVID-19 virus has forced all political and economic efforts to face the pandemic. That is why, it is not surprising that many projects that were expected to be underway for this year, are now in Stand by.
In the case of the Argentine Air Force (FAA), to achieve its modernization, there are several fronts that would have to be addressed.
On the one hand, there is an urgent need to establish a weapons system that can replace the units that have already completed their useful lives within the FAA. Much was said last year about the acquisition of a supersonic fighter of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI): the FA-50, an advanced training aircraft and supersonic light fighter that Argentina was planning to incorporate, in addition to several other acquisitions and modernizations that would allow the FAA maintain and regain its combat capabilities; however, and given the current situation, the options must be reconsidered and a solution that best suits the country’s economic situation must be reconsidered, especially given the uncertainty scenario that the coronavirus crisis currently raises.
However, it is not all the fault of the pandemic, the postponements and indecisiveness on some issues around the viable requirements for the modernization of the force are long-standing.
As a close example, I quote the advanced negotiations between the Argentine government and the Korean company KAI for the acquisition of the FA-50 supersonic fighters, which had already suffered an abrupt freeze when the rise of the dollar forced the project to be stopped. The FA-50 supersonic fighter was listed as the best option, or the most feasible, for Argentina, and after years of negotiations, it was canceled.
Following this thread, despite the much commented deprogramming and the projected drop years ago of the A-4AR Fightinghawk, and without a new fighter-bomber to replace it, and the option of complementing it in the short term, ruled out, as already mentioned by Zona Militar, the Argentine Air Force is ready to make all budgetary, material and personnel efforts to increase the number of aircraft in active service, and it will also do so by acquiring the spare parts necessary to continue preserving the A-4AR. The FAA estimates that 10 to 12 units could be commissioned in the coming years, according to the source.
And to keep moving forward, is this enough? Of course not, there are also other systems that should be modernized, improved or even replaced. Below is the list of updates and / or acquisitions that the FAA should require to modernize its force.
Requirements to upgrade the Air Force
- Recovery of supersonic interception capacity.
- Strategic Transportation: Have at least one unit of the 737.
- Tactical Transport: Finish the recovery and modernization process of the C-130. And in turn, modernize the L-100-30.
- Medium Transportation: C-295 unit, and the Fokker F-28 put in condition.
- TC-12B: 12 units from the United States, receiving 2 or 3 units per year. This achievement would allow for more flight hours at low cost and the ability for the FAA to form the Transportation School within the II Air Brigade.
- Texan: Complete the 24 units.
- Pampa III: That it includes weapons and self-defense devices, in addition to a tactical radar.
- A4-AR: Reach 10/12 operating units in the short term.
- Pucara Fenix: Complete 5 or 6 units in the short term.