Has Argentina offered to give Ukraine five Super Étendard fighters?

U.S. Navy photo

Conflicting media reports have emerged surrounding Argentina’s alleged plan to deliver five Dassault Super Étendard single-engine attack fighters to Ukraine. 

The information was first reported by InfoBae, which claims that Argentine President Javier Milei has approved a plan crafted by Defense Minister Luis Petri and Foreign Minister Diana Mondino to deliver the five aircraft to support Ukraine’s efforts in its ongoing war against Russia. 

Mondino reportedly discussed the project with her French counterpart, Stéphane Séjourné, and US President Joe Biden’s administration. During these discussions, Argentina sought support to refurbish the aircraft and receive military equipment in exchange. 

However, the Argentinian defense publication Zona Militar, citing military sources, denied the existence of such a project. They have categorically denied any plan by the current Argentine government to transfer these combat aircraft to another country when the Argentine Naval Aviation seeks to reinforce its diminished capabilities. 

The strange saga of Argentina’s Super Etendard fighters 

The Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard is a French carrier-based strike fighter aircraft developed in the 1970s. The aircraft is powered by a single SNECMA ATAR 8K50 turbojet engine. Upgraded from the original Super Étendard, the Modernisé version developed in the late 1980s features enhanced avionics and controls, and a new radar system.  

In July 1979, Argentina ordered 14 Super-Étendard fighters to arm its aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo. Known for its role in anti-ship and ground-attack missions, the aircraft gained notable combat experience during conflicts such as the 1982 Falklands War that opposed Argentina to the United Kingdom.  

In January 2018, during then-President Macri’s visit to France, the sale of five retired Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard Modernisés from the French Navy was announced. The €12 million contract included eight ATAR 8K50 engines, spare parts, and a training simulator. The five aircraft were eventually delivered in 2020. 

However, since the Falklands War, the UK has imposed an arms embargo on Argentina, preventing the delivery of cartridges for the MK6 ejection seats manufactured by the British group Martin Baker. After three years, Argentina abandoned efforts to circumvent the sanctions

The Argentine military had been considering different options to upgrade its aging combat aircraft fleet, which currently consists of approximately 24 outdated A-4AR Fightinghawk light attack jets. Procurement plans were made with France, Russia, and China, but none of these materialized.  

Eventually, Argentina successfully acquired 24 F-16 fighter jets from Denmark on March 26, 2024, with the support of the United States. 

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