Wednesday, May 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 16-04-2024 12:52

Petri hails Milei's leadership as he inks deal for F-16 jets in Denmark

Argentina’s Defence Minister offers gushing praise for President Javier Milei as he visits a Danish air base to finalise future purchase of 24 F-16 fighter jets from Denmark.

Denmark on Tuesday confirmed the future delivery of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Argentina as the two nations inked a previously trailed defence deal at a Danish air base.

Defence Minister Luis Petri flew to Copenhagen and travelled to the Skrydstrup air base in Denmark to see the jets and sign the deal. Last month, he signed a letter of intent with his Danish counterpart Troels Lund Poulsen for the US$300- million purchase of the planes. 

President Javier Milei was set to join Petri in Denmark but the Argentine head of state cut short an international trip last week. Travelling back from the United States back to Argentina, the libertarian leader set up a crisis committee following Iran’s attack on Israel.

Instead, Milei joined Tuesday’s event via videolink, during which he was roundly praised by Petri for “leading Argentina out of decades of decadence.”

Milei “is taking the flags of freedom to all corners of the world," declared Petri during a brief ceremony, claiming that the Danish deal provided proof of this.

"You are moving the country forward," the official gushed to the head of state, conveying the thanks of the Armed Forces.

"Dear Luis, this task we are carrying out is only possible because I am accompanied by a great Cabinet with great people, great human beings and extremely talented," responded Milei.


Danish modernisation

Denmark is in the process of upgrading its fleet to the more modern F-35, and has around forty F-16s, of which around 30 are in operation, according to Danish media.

The country has also committed to supplying an unspecified number of aircraft of this type to Ukraine, and has begun training Ukrainian pilots. 

"I am very pleased that the Danish F-16s, which have served us well over the years and have been thoroughly maintained and technologically updated, will now benefit Argentina's air force," Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said in a statement.

Previously, the Danish Defence Ministry has valued the deal – which also includes engines, spare parts, simulators and training equipment – at around 2.1 billion kroner (US$300 million). 

No delivery date has been announced, but it is expected to take place in the next few years and the deal has been approved by the United States, where the F-16s are built.

Milei, who took office last December, considers Washington to be a natural ally.

In recent years, media reports mentioned offers from China and India as potential collaborators in a bid to rehaul Argentina’s Air Force, which in 2017 parted with the last of its French-made Mirage aircraft after four decades of service.


Argentine spending

Argentina says that the fighter jets will be the backbone of its air defence system for decades to come. Nevertheless, the defence spending has been criticised by opponents, who see severe austerity enforced on other sectors of the economy.

The La Libertad Avanza government says it wants to “promote investment in defence with the aim of strengthening capabilities.”

"We are completing the most important military aeronautical acquisition since 1983. These are 24 F-16 aircraft that have been modernised and equipped with the best technology," Petri said during his speech in Denmark.

"With these new aircraft we are taking a transcendental step in our defence policy, recovering the supersonic capacity of our aviation and achieving the definitive entry of our Air Force into the technological challenges of the 21st century," said the official, proclaiming that the country had begun to "recover its air sovereignty.”

After the ceremony, Petri colourfully declaring that “Argentines once again have the forces of heaven to protect us."



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