Ukraine's F-16 acquisition at risk due to Argentina and China
The number of F-16s Ukraine may acquire hinges on a complex geopolitical situation unfolding in Argentina, involving the interests of the US and China
Defense Express explains how the situation in Argentina influences Ukraine’s acquisition of F-16 aircraft.
Argentina is in dire need of fleet renewal, considering its limited fleet of around 20 A-4 Skyhawks in questionable flight condition. However, this choice is pivotal for the United States, as it aims to prevent China from gaining a foothold in the region.
China is actively vying for Argentina's business, offering 15-20 brand new JF-17 fighter jets at an attractive price point with favorable financing terms. The affordability of the JF-17, despite lacking unique capabilities, is a significant selling point.
The US' response and implications for Ukraine
The US, facing the constraints of a long waitlist and a higher price tag for new F-16s, can only counter with used F-16s, potentially sourced from Denmark. There are reports of an unofficial request from the US Department of Defense to sell up to 38 used F-16s from Denmark to Argentina, but specifics regarding the number and cost remain undisclosed.
For Ukraine, the challenge lies in the fact that Denmark's F-16s were intended for reinforcement, with a limited total pool of 44 fighter jets, of which 30 are airworthy. Denmark may prioritize its own security and commitment to its declared objectives rather than addressing international concerns.
The division of Danish used aircraft could become a contentious issue, as the US seeks to prevent the entry of Chinese defense companies into South America. With relatively modest defense budgets in South American countries, the allure of affordable Chinese weapons, especially on credit terms, poses a potential threat that the US aims to counter.