BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - France has sold five used Super Étendard fighter planes to Argentina, which has an outdated military fleet and is hosting large international events in coming years, the French ambassador in Buenos Aires said.
The planes were negotiated during talks over the sale of four ships from French shipbuilding company Naval Group to Argentina, a discussion that Ambassador Pierre Henri Guignard said in an interview is ongoing.
“We parted with five Super Etendard fighters that are a bit old but important for them,” Guignard said. “The amount is symbolic as they are not new.”
He said the planes would allow Argentina to have some operating planes before the Group of 20 summit it will host at the end of next year. Buenos Aires is also hosting the World Trade Organization ministerial conferences in December and has the Youth Olympics Games next year.
Argentina’s defence ministry declined immediate comment. Local media have said such a deal could cost around 12 million euros ($13.91 million).
Argentina used Super Etendard aircraft, which were manufactured by Dassault, during the 1982 Falkland Islands war, in which it failed to gain control of the British-held territory in the South Atlantic and lost some 600 lives.
In March, Argentina’s then-Defense Minister Julio Martinez told Reuters that Argentina had few funds available to replace its outdated military fleet beyond the purchase of 12 Beechcraft Texan aircraft to train pilots.
Guignard said he was aware Argentina had been entertaining less expensive proposals to buy ships.
“We believe that the inferior price does not imply the same level of quality and we hope to extend this conversation with the Argentines,” he said.
Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Leslie Adler