JF-17 Thunder Thunder Multirole Combat Aircraft
JF-17 Thunder Thunder Multirole Combat Aircraft

Britain Could Block JF-17 Thunder Multirole Combat Aircraft Sale to Argentine Air Force

Argentine officials at the 2013 Paris Air Show said they had discussed JF-17 co-production with Chinese officials, calling it the first formal effort potentially leading to the co-production of a modern Chinese fighter in Latin America. Fábrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) officials said the co-produced FC-1 could be called the “Pulqui-III”, recalling FAdeA’s Pulqui-II, Latin America’s first swept wing jet fighter. In May 2021, it was reported that a Chinese delegation arrived in Argentina to negotiate for the sale of 12 JF-17s to the Argentine Air Force.

Following the retirement of its latest Dassault Mirage III in 2015, the Argentine Air Force is out of supersonic fighter jets in its fleet and has been using subsonic A-4 attack aircraft while negotiating the purchase of an intercept aircraft. The Argentine Air Force needs new fighter jets to replace its legacy fleet of obsolete A-4ARs. The A-4AR is an advanced variant of the A-4M Skyhawk that boasts some of the same electronic equipment as the F-16, such as the AN/APG-66v2 radar. It is unclear how many of the initial 36 Argentine A-4ARs remain in service today.

Martin-Baker PK16LE ejection seats for the JF-17.
Martin-Baker PK16LE ejection seats for the JF-17 Thunder Multirole Combat Aircraft.

China’s in collaboration with Pakistan attempt to sell Argentina its JF-17 multirole combat aircraft that it makes could be blocked by the U.K. as one of its crucial components- the ejection seat- is made by a British company, Martin-Baker. London had earlier vetoed the sale of 12 South Korean TA-50 light fighter jets to the South American country citing an arms embargo imposed on Argentina after the 1982 Falklands war. The TA-50 contains several British-made component including the Martin-Baker ejection seats and landing gear made by Safran U.K.

Martin-Baker was selected by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group to supply its PK16LE ejection seats for the JF-17. PK-16LE MK16 ejection seat also has an ejection sequencer, which manages the separation time of ejection seat and parachute of the ejectee pilot. The main features of PL-16LE MK16 are the rearward firing headbox, leg restraints and enhanced cushions. Beneath the seat cushions are the pilot’s survival kit which includes a rescue flares, small boat, medicine, food and some other accessories.

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