Leonardo not giving up on Argentina fighter bid

23 July 2019

Leonardo still has hopes of securing a sale of its M-346FA in Argentina, despite a report that a rival platform has already been selected. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Leonardo remains confident that it can sell its M-346FA to Argentina, despite Jane's being told that the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina - FAA) has already selected the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle to be its new interim fighter aircraft.

Speaking to Jane's on 22 July, Leonardo officials said that the company is still pushing the light fighter and attack variant of its M-346 Master advanced jet trainer to the FAA as part of a wider proposal that includes technology transfer and local industrial participation.

An additional part of its interim-fighter bid, Leonardo sees the M-346FA serving as a potential stepping-stone to the Eurofighter Typhoon, which the company manufacturers as part of a consortium that includes BAE Systems from the UK and Airbus from Germany and Spain. It is also offering the M-346FA alongside other platforms from its portfolio, including the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft and various helicopters.

Leonardo's comments came a day after Jane's quoted an informed source as saying that the FA-50 was the FAA's preferred option, and that, subject to upcoming presidential elections in October, the government is expected to sign off on the procurement. The details of KAI's bid have not been disclosed, but the chief of the FAA, Brigadier General Amrein, has previously told Jane's that he is looking for an aircraft that is relatively cheap to acquire and operate, and that is capable of meeting his requirements.

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