How & Why The UK Has Blocked The Sale Of South Korean Fighter Jets To Argentina?

The British Government has halted the sales of the South Korean fighter FA-50 to Argentina, reminding of the tensions brewing up since the South Atlantic conflict.

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The FA-50 is produced by South Korean company KAI (Korea Aerospace Industries) in conjunction with Lockheed Martin.

Argentina was actively looking for its procurement when a letter dated 28th October surfaced on the internet, showing the South Korean manufacturer informing Buenos Aires that it is unable to supply the light fighter and strike jet since it has British-made parts.

After the Falklands War with Argentina in the Summer of 1982, the British Government came out victorious and imposed economic sanctions and arms embargo on the former, extensive to procurements having minimum components of British origin- such is the case with the South Korean FA 50, which has six UK made parts.

“It is our regret to inform you that the UK export license issue is not resolved to date. Although KAI did not yet find a solution, KAI is making a reasonable endeavour to resolve this UK export license issue,” the letter posted online said.

The Argentine Defense Minister Augustin Rossi confirmed the news and admitted that the British government has indeed barred the FA-50 sales. He described it as another act of “imperial arrogance” by the UK.

File:RoKAF T-50 Golden Eagle.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
RoKAF T-50 Golden Eagle – Wikimedia Commons

Similar happened when Argentina had turned to Brazil to acquire the JAS-39 Gripen jets, which was unsuccessful due to the British embargo, knowing that most of the Gripen avionics are of British origin.

The Argentine Air Force was eyeing the FA-50 as its interim replacement for the retired Mirage 3, 5, and Dagger force. It is also to help replace the retiring A-4AR Fightinghawk fleet, as those aircraft are ageing and becoming difficult to repair and maintain.

It is not being speculated that the Argentine Government might now turn to the Russians and Chinese to purchase the fighter jets after being “failed by the west.”

The FA-50 “Golden Eagle”

The FA-50 is one of the aircraft from the T-50 family, which includes supersonic trainers, light combat aircraft, and multirole fighter. The light combat aircraft variant is named “TA-50”, whereas the multirole fighter variant is known as the “FA-50”.

It is a single-engine aircraft, with designs highly derived from Lockheed Martin’s F-16. It was the first supersonic-capable fighter jet made by South Korea and has been exported to Indonesia, Iraq, the Philippines, and Thailand.

The aircraft saw its first combat experience in the Philippine service when the type was used against Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in the Battle of Marawi.