Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) said on Monday that the agreement to sell 10 FA-50 light fighters to the Argentine Air Force was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It must have been difficult for Argentina to spend its defense budget for fighter jets when it is experiencing difficulties due to the virus spread,” a KAI official said to a local newspaper in South Korea.

Combat variant of the T-50 Golden Eagle advanced training jet, the South Korean fighter jet has been offered as an affordable solution for countries operating outdated aircraft. Argentina, which already had a large fleet of fighters, currently uses the A-4R attack planes in the country’s air defense.

Based on the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter, the FA-50 Fighting Eagle uses a F404 turbofan engine manufactured under license by Samsung, has fly-by-wire controls, the HOTAS concept and pulse doppler radar.

The two-seater fighter can reach Mach 1.5 and carry AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and a wide variety of air-to-ground weapons. KAI is thought to have asked for just $ 20 million for each aircraft in addition to offering a simulator and armaments.

The agreement had been negotiated by the previous government, the liberal Mauricio Macri, and which was succeeded by Alberto Fernández, of a populist political line.

Currently, the KAI aircraft is operated by Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Iraq, in addition to South Korea.

A-4AR Skyhawk attack planes is responsible for Argentina’s air defense for lack of options (Chris Lofting/Wikimedia)