The Argentine government has sealed a deal to buy five Super Etendard fighter-style jets from France.
French Ambassador to Argentina Pierre Henri Guignard said in an interview that the jets are “a little old, but are important for (Argentina).” The deal was finalized as the Argentine military discusses the purchase of four new navy ships from French ship builder Naval Group.
Guignard added that the fighter jets are “symbolic” for Argentina’s military forces and allow the country to continue to use Super Etendards before the Group of 20, or G20, summit to be held in Buenos Aires next year. G20 is a forum for “international cooperation on financial and economic questions” among 20 “developed and developing” states.
Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad said he couldn’t reveal the total cost or details of the transaction. Reuters reported that estimates for the purchase are around US$13.9 million.
Argentina used Super Etendard aircrafts during the 1982 battle against the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands.
Last Monday, the first four of 12 new Texan II TC6 turboprop planes arrived to the Argentine air force base in Cordoba from a U.S. company. The planes will be used in training missions and to “combat narco trafficking” along the country’s northern border. The planes can carry up to 300 kilograms of military arms.
"This is the first incorporation of first generation for the Air Force in the last 15 years," Aguad said of last Monday’s delivery.
He had originally asked for 24 Texan II TC6 turboprop planes.
The cost of the turboprops, purchased through loans, are estimated at US$160.4 million. The move to ramp up the Argentine Air Force comes after the military entity lost over 400 pilots and 380 officials over the past 15 years. Aguad replaced former Minister of Defense Julio Martinez in July. Martinez commented last March that the military couldn’t afford to replace its various air, land and sea fleets.
Standard & Poor's just ranked Argentina as having one of the five most “fragile” economies in the world, on par with Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and Qatar, in light of the United States raising its loan interest rates. This year alone, Infobae reports that Argentina will have to take out an estimated US$30,000 million, plus interest.
Macri’s neoliberal austerity measures have incited various labor union strikes and protests over the past six months. Since 2015, his policies have resulted in the indefinite layoff of over 108,000 public workers, mainly teachers.
Macri and sympathetic right-wing legislators have slashed energy and gas subsidies, causing a 500 percent price increase for electricity and a 300 percent jump in natural gas prices in some parts of the country.
Public transportation costs are up 100 percent in some areas.
On Nov. 15, the Justice Workers' Union of Argentina, UEJN, will strike nationally against additional labor reforms proposed by Macri, which includes reducing the judicial sector budget. Macri recently criticized the effectiveness of the country’s judicial workers and said the system was overstaffed. UEJN leader Julio Piumato said in response, "It is a lie that we are overstaffed, justice has collapsed, the volume of work grew.”