The re-equipment of the Argentine Air Force on fighter planes encountered an unexpected barrier. The South American country intended to acquire 10 units of the South Korean light fighter FA-50 to return to supersonic defense aircraft, however, KAI (Korean Aerospace Industries), manufacturer of the model, informed Argentina that it is unable to deliver them.

The issue involves six major components of the aircraft that are produced in the United Kingdom, which prevented the supply of the items to Argentina. Since 1982, when the Falkland Islands War broke out, the British have had an arms embargo on former rivals.

The information was revealed by a letter from KAI to the Argentine ambassador to South Korea on October 28. The manufacturer says that although it has not yet found a solution, it is making efforts to resolve the issue.

The KAI’s letter

Derived from the F-16

The FA-50 is a combat version of the T-50 training aircraft. This aircraft, in turn, was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin and therefore has similarities with the F-16 fighter. The aircraft is equipped with a GE F404 engine licensed by Samsung. This is the same turbofan used by the rival F/A-18. The fighter is quite advanced and include fly-by-wire, HOTAS concept, HUD wide field of view, inertial navigation system and a pulse doppler radar.

The FA-50 is the light combat variant with two seats. KAI even proposed a monoplace fighter, but it was never built. Among the weapons it can carry are the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, smart bombs and air-to-ground missiles, plus an internal 20 mm cannon.

In 2019, the Argentine press reported that the government was close to reaching an agreement with KAI to acquire 10 FA-50 fighters for about $ 200 million, a much lower value than more advanced fighters.

Since 2015, Fuerza Aerea Argentina has been without a supersonic interception aircraft after the retirement of its Mirage III. The country has been trying to negotiate the supply of fighter jets for some time, but it comes up against budget and bureaucratic restrictions.

Currently, Argentina’s air defense is performed by five adapted subsonic A-4AR planes since a unit crashed in August.

A-4AR Skyhawk attack planes from Argentina (Chris Lofting/CC)