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Not just Tejas, Brahmos and Prachand also on procurement radar of visiting Argentinian Defence Minister

Argentina is one of the several countries to have evinced interest in indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Light Combat Aircraft Tejas (Image courtesy: Indian Air Force)

India’s state-of-the-art modern fourth-generation Tejas fighter jet stays on course to beat a crowded field of major competitors and emerge as Argentina’s top choice for the country’s air force as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holds a crucial meeting with his Argentine counterpart Jorge Enrique Taiana in New Delhi on Tuesday.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com extensively over the past one year, the made-in-India Tejas fighter aircraft has for long been in contention for Buenos Aires’ order of 12 fighter jets, a final decision on which is expected to be taken during Taiana’s visit to New Delhi and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) headquarters in Bangalore.

Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter jets developed jointly with China, South Korea’s FA-50, Russia’s MiG-35 and the US F-16s were also considered by one of the largest economies in South America as the Argentine Air Force desperately looked to acquire a new fighter amid the ongoing territorial dispute with the United Kingdom over the ownership of the Falkland Islands.

After holding several rounds of negotiations, it is believed that India is offering a modified variant of the LCA Tejas Mk1A to Argentina with the replacement of parts manufactured in the UK.

argentina india defence
Lieutenant General Juan Martin Paleo, Joint Chief of Staff of the Argentine Armed Forces, at the DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar (Image courtesy: Twitter/@HALHQBLR)

Quite significantly, considering the fast-changing geopolitical scenario in the region, Argentina also remains quite keen on bolstering its defence forces with India’s Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles and the indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) ‘Prachand’ that was inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF), last October.

On Tuesday, immediately after landing in India, Taiana toured the Brahmos facility in New Delhi and met with the Indo-Russian aerospace and defence corporation’s CEO and Managing Director Atul Dinkar Rane.

IndiaNarrative.com has reported visits of Argentine defence delegations to India and also the series of meetings between the country’s defence ministry and the HAL – the largest industrial aeronautics company in India and one of the most important in Asia – that began in March 2022.

Also Read: Will Argentina lead demand for India’s Tejas fighter jets in Latin America?

On June 7, Taiana received a HAL delegation, accompanied by Indian Ambassador to Argentina Dinesh Bhatia, which was visiting the country with the objective of promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of defence industry.

The travelling party also held a meeting with the chief of Argentine Air Force, Brigadier General Xavier Isaac and his technical team to evaluate the offer of Tejas combat aircraft.

argentina tejas
Dinesh Bhatia, Indian Ambassador to Argentina, with Argentina’s Defence Minister Jorge Taiana in Buenos Aires, last month (Image courtesy: Twitter/@JorgeTaiana)

Likewise, they also met the country’s army chief, Lieutenant General Guillermo Olegario Pereda and personnel from the force to present options for helicopters manufactured in India.

On June 19, the Argentine Aircraft Factory (FAdeA) and HAL signed an agreement on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show with the aim of exploring possibilities in commercialization and joint development of products.

The collaboration, said the Argentine Defence Ministry, represents a valuable opportunity for FAdeA to enter the Indian market and, in turn, access the Asian market in its set and, at the same time, allows HAL to expand in the Latin American market, having FAdeA as its main partner in the region.

Earlier this year, during the Aero India 2023 show, the Argentine Air Force also signed a contract with HAL for the maintenance of the engines of its Lama helicopters.

As both countries continued to explore new partnerships in the defence sector, a top-level Argentinian delegation visited the DefExpo 2022 in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar last October.

Led by Lieutenant General Juan Martin Paleo, Joint Chief of Staff of the Argentine Armed Forces, the visiting group were given a detailed briefing by HAL Director (Operations) E P Jayadeva and D K Sunil, Director (Engg and R&D) and also had a close look at LCH ‘Prachand’ which was on display at the venue.

Prachand light combat
India’s Light Combat Helicopter has a good export potential

Brigadier General Isaac was also part of a top-level Argentinian delegation – including Secretary of Research, Industrial Policy and Production for Defence, Daniela Castro – which visited India in March 2022 with the aim of consolidating bilateral cooperation in the defence industry which had gained momentum following a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries in 2019 to explore and work together in the defence sector.

The visiting delegation not only held intense discussions with Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and IAF chief Vivek Ram Chaudhari but also visited the aircraft, helicopter and engine manufacturing facilities of the HAL which manufactures Tejas.

Also Read: Tejas on mind, Argentine Armed Forces chief takes close look at HAL’s prowess