According to sources familiar with the decision at hand, On September 16, a budget of $664 million was presented to the Argentine Congress for the purchase of 12 Pakistani JF-17A Block III fighter planes. The development comes at a time when Argentine authorities continue to be more inclined towards acquiring non-Russian fighter jets.
For the last few months, Russia was hoping that Argentina would opt for its fighter jet. With Pakistan outpricing its bid, Buenos Aires is leaning towards purchasing the JF-17A.
The development does not bode well for Russia, since it signals yet another country that has potentially given up on acquiring the MiG-35. Argentina has yet to make a final decision. Other countries which have opted to not purchase the fighter plane includes India, Malaysia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Peru, and Myanmar.
According to some Argentine journalists, Pakistan’s JF-17A managed to win the bid because they bid $664 million for 12 fighters.
Low price fighter planes
The JF-17A Block III is a fighter that saw flight tests being done just last year. Although unlike the Mig-35, it does not boast high maneuverability, its price points are much lower than its competitors. The cheap fighter plane is already in operation in Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Argentina. Purchase enquiries have also come from countries including, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Sudan, Bolivia, and Zimbabwe.
According to Pakistani sources, the JF-17 has the full potential to fight and even beat the US F-16 fighter. Its advantage may come from its AESA radar, which can effectively jam 80% of enemy radars. The plane is equipped with a new electronic warfare system and features upgraded avionics; it also includes a three-axis fly-by-wire digital flight control system.
Argentinian authories would be wise to keep Pakistan’s economic stability in mind before they sign on the dotted lines. Continued production and support of the jet will need Pakistan to be economically stable.
Unfortunately, the JF-17 cannot evade Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system. On the plus side though, the single-engine plane is able to perform air maneuvers and is able to carry various ammunition, including air-to-ground missiles, air-to-air missiles, and is also equipped with 23 mm twin-barrel autocannon.
The aircraft can be powered by either the Chinese Guizhou WS-13 engine or the Russian Klimov RD-93 engine, which incidentally features on the MiG-29. Powered by either engine, the plane is capable of speed up to 1.8 Mach.