Nov 9, 2014
Argentina Buying Gripens? UK Say 'No Way'
But Rossi’s request appeared to ignore a likely insurmountable hurdle to the sale: Britain, its longtime foe, has a near veto on the export of the combat jet as a result of the substantial number of UK systems in the jet. More than 30 percent of the new version of the Gripen being developed by Saab is supplied by British industry.
Selex ES’ key active electronically scanned array radar, landing gear, ejection seat, electronic system and other sub-systems would all be hit by a British block on military exports to Argentina.
British business secretary Vince Cable invoked the ban on the sale of all military and dual-use technology for use by Argentina in 2012. That export license is still in place and will likely remain given the impasse between the two nations over resolving the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
The Argentinean defense minister made the purchase of the aircraft dependent on his country participating in the Gripen E program signed by Saab and the Brazilian government, which will see South America’s biggest nation buy at least 36 fighters.
The deal involves an assembly line set up by Embraer in Brazil, joint development of a two-seat version of the Gripen and an export drive to other South American air forces.
Ironically, the UK government supported the Gripen sale to Brazil due to the high level of British material in the aircraft.
Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said that while it would be feasible to replace UK systems on the Gripen, the practicalities are something different.
“Argentina is not flush with money, and the reality is that replacing such key systems as the UK supplies would come with significantly high requalification costs,” he said.
Sources with knowledge of the South American fighter market said Saab has been approached several times over the past few years by the Argentineans over a possible Gripen deal only to be quietly rebuffed by the Swedish company.
Rossi’s announcement during a roll-out ceremony of Embraer’s KC-390 airlifter in Brazil caused alarm in Britain, which is in a long-running dispute with Argentina over who owns the Falkland Islands, which Argentina calls the Malivinas Islands.
The issue came up in the UK Parliament last week and the House of Commons defense committee tried to quiz armed forces chiefs on Nov. 5 about the implications for the defense of the islands from a Gripen sale to Argentina.
Argentina has been trying to replace the aging fleet of Dassault combat aircraft for some time. Most recently, second-hand Spanish Air Force Mirage F1s were being considered, but that deal has yet to materialize. hasn’t yet come to anything.