Argentinian officials have decided to reassert state control over the country's major aerospace manufacturing hub in Cordoba that was outsourced to Lockheed Martin in 1995.

A bill sent to Argentina's legislature by President Cristina Kirchner would, if approved, take back the factory now operated by Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina (LMAASA). This maintains the Argentinian air force's AT-63 Pampa jet trainers, manufactures parts for various US and Chilean aircraft, and also provides maintenance services for Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil.

Kirchner's government is seeking to nationalise the manufacturing centre's 1,100 jobs. Announcing the proposed legislation, she said the move is aimed at reversing a strategy of "dissembling the instruments of autonomy and national sovereignty".

Upgraded AT- 63

Argentina's decision mirrors a recent move by the government in its northern neighbour, Brazil, which last September revealed plans to revitalise a dormant domestic aerospace industry. It plans to use technology transfer from its pending F-X2 fighter contract award to jump-start industrial innovation and production capacity, and describes gaining the ability to design and manufacture a "fifth-generation fighter" as a medium- to long-term goal.

Lockheed would continue to have a presence in Argentina even if LMAASA is nationalised. The Argentinian military operates C-130 Hercules transports and P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Lockheed says it has "an ongoing open dialogue" with Argentinian government and military officials.

Source: Flight International