The Argentine Air Force’s ongoing process of selecting supersonic fighters continues, progressing with new meetings between institutional authorities and representatives from India. The latest development involves an official meeting between FAA Chief Brigadier General Xavier Isaac, the Ambassador of the Republic of India, and delegates from the HAL company, the manufacturer of the LCA Tejas fighter jet.
As per official announcements from the Indian Embassy in Argentina and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the meeting occurred on June 5, where an Asian delegation engaged with Brigadier General Xavier Isaac, the Chief of the Argentine Air Force.
While no specific details were disclosed, the Indian embassy stated that the purpose of the meeting was to enhance cooperation and explore potential partnerships related to the integration of supersonic fighters. Specifically, discussions revolved around the LCA Tejas, produced and marketed by HAL, as well as exploring opportunities in the helicopter domain offered by the Indian company. It is noteworthy that this meeting follows a recent contract signing in February for the supply of components for SA-315B Lama helicopters operated by the Argentine Air Force.
However, despite the Indian government and HAL’s endorsement of the LCA Tejas as a superior alternative compared to the primary proposals from the United States and China, the fighter aircraft faces certain challenges that must be addressed. These challenges arise due to the significant presence of UK-manufactured or licensed components, which are subject to the UK Government’s export restrictions to Argentina.
Given the challenges outlined, the Indian government and HAL have expressed their readiness, through the Asian country’s media, to address the replacement of components if Argentina decides to procure the LCA Tejas. An example of such replacement could be the aircraft fairing currently manufactured by the Cobham firm. However, this course of action may introduce delays in the future induction process, as implementing domestic production or finding third-party replacements would necessitate new testing, thereby postponing the aircraft’s integration into the Argentine Air Force.
Regarding the recent meeting, it aligns with the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Argentina’s approach of providing equal opportunities for all contenders to present and enhance their combat aircraft proposals for the Air Force. However, sources indicate that the potential selection of a supersonic fighter-bomber lies between the F-16 proposal from the United States and the FC-1 (JF-17 Thunder) offered by the People’s Republic of China. Despite the apparent sidelining of the HAL Tejas in official considerations, the meetings between Argentina and India offer opportunities to advance in other areas, fostering deeper defense cooperation at the industrial level, including technology transfer and local production possibilities. These meetings further reflect the increasing momentum witnessed by the Indian defense industry in recent years. Notably, discussions between representatives of the Indian company and the Argentine Army’s Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Guillermo Olegario Pereda, continued yesterday.