Argentina to acquire KC-135 tankers to extend the range of its new F-16 fleet

Argentina initiated the administrative processes to analyze different alternatives for the acquisition of KC-135 “Stratotanker” tanker aircraft to extend the operational range of its future F-16 fighter fleet.

The Head of Cabinet submitted to the Argentine Senate an extensive report in which they answered 1286 questions asked by the senators on a wide range of issues. In said document, it is reported that the Argentine Air Force (FAA) is seeking to incorporate KC-135 “Stratotanker” in-flight refueling aircrafts.

The only tanker aircraft available to the FAA are two KC-130H Hercules, whose “probe-and-drogue” systems are incompatible with the recently acquired F-16 Fighting Falcons.

One of the questions asked by the senators is whether the incorporation of Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker tanker aircraft is planned, since it is recognized that the F-16 MLU acquired from Denmark are incompatible with the two Lockheed Martin KC-130H Hercules aircraft available to the FAA for in-flight refueling.

To which the report prepared by the team of Javier Milei’s Chief of Staff, Nicolás Posse, responded: the incorporation of KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft in Ramp to Ramp mode is planned once this type of aircraft is available. To this end, administrative processes have been initiated to analyze different alternatives.

KC-135 fueling an F-16.

Although the report talks about the beginning of the works for the eventual incorporation of the KC-135s, it does not provide further details on the expected time for such operation to materialize. In this regard, it is worth recalling the words of the Joint Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Xavier Julián Isaac during the last edition of FIDAE: “And as for the in-flight refueling system, it is something that we are going to analyze carefully, without haste, because the aircraft have a great autonomy and we will see what best suits our possibilities”.

Regarding F-16 MLUs

The report also provides details on the acquisition of F-16 fighters for the Argentine Air Force.

Firstly, it states that the F-16 MLU (mid-life update) aircraft was selected because it meets the most criteria and requirements stipulated by the Strategic Military Planning and that this weapon system is not subject to any kind of embargo or veto by the United Kingdom.

Twenty-four aircraft were acquired (16 single-seat and 8 two-seat), and a twenty-fifth aircraft was purchased as a maintenance training element. The contract includes technical information, tools, ground support equipment, diagnostic equipment and training to perform the different maintenance steps in the country. The aircraft acquisition includes spare parts and logistic services to operate for five years. The cost of the operation is USD 301.2 million.

See also: Argentina Finalizes Purchase of F-16 Aircraft from Denmark

It is also clarified that the training process for the reception, operation and maintenance of the aircraft began in March of this year and consists of two stages. The first stage of the training includes English language courses for the purpose of receiving courses that provide the corresponding certifications to technicians and pilots. The second stage of the training, the operational stage, will be carried out in Denmark, the United States and Argentina, and will take place throughout the year.

F-16 Fuerza Aérea Argentina
One of the FAA’s new F-16s.

It is confirmed that the F-16s will be based at the VI Air Brigade in the City of Tandil, Province of Buenos Aires, and their major maintenance echelon will be based at the Río Cuarto Material Area, Province of Córdoba. The execution of an Infrastructure Plan is foreseen, which includes improvements in the airport surfaces, runway, aircraft protection platforms, aeronautical material depots, powder magazines, hangars, workshops, training rooms, basic unit services and flight support systems, in order to be able to operate correctly with the new aircraft.

Gastón Dubois
Gastón Dubois
Editor en jefe en Aviacionline Defensa. Editor-in-Chief Aviacionline Defense. Feliz de poder darle letra a esta pasión y compartirla con Uds. Contacto:



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