The JF-17 Thunder may enter Argentine service, with the disclosure that procurement funding has been allocated. (Janes/Paul Jackson)
Argentina has allocated funding to procure the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC)/ Pakistan Aeronautical Complex FC-1/JF-17 in the country’s latest effort to recapitalise its fighter aircraft capabilities.
Announced on 15 September, the draft budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022 includes USD664 million towards the purchase of 12 JF-17 Thunder Block III jets (including USD20 million for infrastructure).
This development marks the latest step in Argentina’s attempts to buy a new combat type that go back several years. Having retired its Dassault Mirage IIIEA and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Dagger fleets, and with the Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawks suffering availability issues, the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina – FAA) has scoured the globe for a replacement aircraft type.
Potential solutions that have been reported included surplus Spanish Mirage F1s and Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons, IAI Kfirs, Saab Gripens, Leonardo M-346FA/FTs, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50s, CAC J-10s, and Aero L-159s. Even the Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer’ was touted (although this is widely believed to have been a hoax). The JF-17 has previously been reported as an option, with Argentina and China going so far as to form a working group in 2013 to work through the details of introducing both the JF-17 and J-10 into the FAA.