Argentina completes the purchase of F16 fighter jets

The Argentine government formalized the most ambitious purchase of military aircraft since the restoration of democracy.

Argentine Defense Minister, Luis Petri, signing the purcharse.
Argentine Defense Minister, Luist Petri, signing the purcharse. Photo courtesy: Luis Petri

With the libertarian rallying cry –”Long live freedom, damn it!”—President Javier Milei greeted via communication with the Skrydstrup Air Base of the Royal Danish Air Force, which was broadcasted during the signing ceremony for the purchase contract of 24 F-16 fighter jets, which will soon arrive in Argentina.

“Thank you very much, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. You are transforming the country, pulling Argentina out of decades of decline, and carrying the flags of freedom to every corner of the world. And this is also felt and resonates here in Denmark,” Defense Minister Luis Petri expressed to the president from the cockpit of one of the Danish planes, which will have U.S. military equipment.

Thus, the Argentine government formalized the most ambitious purchase of military aircraft since the restoration of democracy. The acquisition of the 24 F-16 A/B MLU Fighting Falcon fighter jets constitutes the first step of the operation, which will be completed in the coming months with negotiations initiated with the United States to define the weapons systems with which the units will be equipped.

The contract was signed at the military base by Minister Petri and his Danish counterpart, Troels Lund Poulsen, who had signed a letter of intent twenty days ago. Milei’s government, which last Saturday suspended his trip to Copenhagen to return to Buenos Aires due to the worsening Middle East crisis, expects to receive the first of the F-16s before the end of the year, which will be assigned to the VI Air Brigade in Tandil.

The operation encompasses an amount close to 650 million dollars, military sources informed LA NACION, of which half corresponds to the value of the aircraft and the other half to the weapons system. It is estimated that the planes will be equipped, at least, with air-to-air missiles and guided air-to-surface weaponry, according to information from specialized sources. Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said the operation would be for a lesser amount, “around 300 million dollars.”

Including the weapons systems, each plane is valued between 20 million and 27 million dollars, and it is estimated that the cost of a flight hour is $20,000. Some units are two-seaters, adapted for pilot training, and others are single-seaters.

These are combat aircraft that have been operational since 1978—manufactured by the U.S. company General Dynamics—and have undergone modernization processes. The Royal Danish Air Force has gradually phased out this system of military aircraft to incorporate F-35 fighter jets, a technological advancement aimed at solidifying a fifth-generation system. In addition to the 24 planes sold to Argentina, Denmark decided earlier this year to donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine, which has been facing Russia’s invasion for over two years.

Minister Petri was accompanied by the Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, Brigadier Xavier Julián Isaac, who played an active role in the negotiations, which began during the previous government, when he served as commander of the Air Force.

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