Argentina Reportedly Offers Five Super Étendard Fighters to Ukraine

Argentina Reportedly Offers Five Super Étendard Fighters to Ukraine

Argentina, suffering from British sanctions, reportedly offers five Super Étendard jet fighters to Ukraine. Argentina-based online publication InfoBae claimed that the Argentinian government planned to give the Ukrainian air force the five Super Étendard Modernized [SEM] carrier-based attack aircraft acquired second-hand from France for €14 million in 2017. Argentina -United Kingdom relations since the Falkland War suffered from British sanctions. Super Étendard aircraft acquired from France is no exception. 

The veto by the United Kingdom on any sale of British-origin components to Argentina, such as the Martin Baker Mk 4A ejection seats that equipped the Modernized Super Étendards, plays an important role in this donation. The purchase was considered a good deal when Argentina decided to acquire the fighters. Recently withdrawn from service by the French Navy, they could carry a Damocles laser designation pod and 250 kg GBU-49 and 125 kg GBU-58 guided bombs. However, the British embargo left the aircraft grounded. Therefore, the “good deal” was a fiasco; the planes purchased could not fly. The Argentine anti-corruption office launched an investigation into the conditions of this purchase. 

Argentine President Javier Milei “approved a plan designed by [his Defence Minister] Luis Petri and [his Foreign Minister] Diana Mondino to support Ukraine’s war effort against Russia. […] It involves sending the government of Volodymyr Zelensky five Super Etendard fighter planes, out of service due to the embargo that Great Britain is applying against Argentina following the Falklands War,” InfoBae claims. Buenos Aires might be asking for “military equipment” in exchange. According to InfoBae, the issue was raised by Ms. Mondino during a meeting with Stéphane Séjourné, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, last February. It was also raised during a “secret meeting with NATO” in Brussels and an exchange with Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden.

The SEMs condition is unknown as they have not flown for eight years. The operational use of aircraft is also open to question. It is known that Ukrainians could use them against the Russian Black Sea Fleet. There have not been many vessels left since the war. Furthermore, unmanned surface vehicles perform the mission more cheaply without risking the crew.