After considering and discarding the procurement of Chinese/Pakistani-built JF-17s and Saab Gripen NG fighter jets to replace its fleet of Mirage combat aircraft, Argentine authorities are now negotiating the purchase of a batch of second-hand, refurbished Israeli-built Kfirs, local military sources here told Defense News.
The Argentine Air Force is heavily pressed by the need to replace its older Mirage aircraft, which are the only higher performance machines in its inventory. Those aircraft should have been replaced around 2002, but fiscal and political difficulties prevented a purchase.
With their replacement overdue, the Mirages today are not only technically obsolete and diminishing in total numbers and operational availability — fewer than 10 are in the flight line — but they are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.
Argentina Air Force officials have been interested in the Kfir for several years, but it was at the 2013 Paris Air Show that delegates met officials of Chengdu Aircraft Corp. and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, the Chinese-Pakistani partnership that produces the JF-17 fighter jet, the sources said.