Speculation has emerged on some Indian news channels that Argentina and India may be very close to finalizing a deal to sell 15 HAL Tejas fighter jets to the Latin American country.
According to this information, which quote unnamned sources in the Indian government, information from sale, that could be worth around US$1.05 billion (8,675 INR Crore) and would be announced during the visit of Argentina’s defence minister to Delhi on July 17, 2023.
It must be noted, though, that no official source has confirmed this information.
Argentina has been in the market looking for new combat aircraft already for a number of years.
The Argentinian Air Force has seen few equipment modernization and upgrades since it was decimated by the British armed forces during the Falklands War, in 1982.
Its last Mirage III fighter jets were retired in 2015 and, as of 2023 the only combat-capable aircraft Argentina operates are a very small number of domestically-produced FMA IA-63 Pampa trainers and a small number of Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk, the modernized version of the iconic A-4 Skyhawk, a model that first flew in the 1950s.
The state of the Argentinian Air Force is such that, in 2016, when president Barack Obama visited the country, the US had to send its own F-16 fighter jets to escort Air Force One, since no suitable aircraft could be found for this mission.
Efforts to procure modern combat aircraft have often been thwarted by a UK veto on any Western models that carries British-made components, given the fact Argentina hasn’t relinquished its claim on the Falkland Islands.
Other options such as getting second-hand Sukhoi Su-24s from Russia or Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Thunders have also been considered in recent years, but have, so far, failed to materialize.
The HAL Tejas is a single-engined, multi-role combat aircraft that first flew with the Indian Air Force in 2015 currently available in land-based and naval versions.