The Argentine Air force has signed an order for eight Sukhoi Su-29 trainers. The deal, valued at nearly $5 million, represents the first time that the Russian company has sold aircraft to Argentina, although several Sukhoi types are operated by Peru.

Sukhoi signed the deal with the Argentinians in Paris on 5 March, after it beat off stiff competition from other contractors vying for the contract. Aside from the aircraft, the agreement also covers the supply of spares. Sukhoi is considering establishing an Argentinian company to administer the deal.

The first two aircraft will be delivered in May, with the remainder following in the weeks thereafter. The trainer will be delivered with a German-built propeller, US-supplied wheel assemblies, communications and global-positioning system, and Swiss canopy.

Most of the Su-29s exported to date have gone to private pilots in the USA, where they are used mainly for competition aerobatics.

The Argentine air force operates a range of training aircraft, including the Embraer EMB-312 Tucano, the Beech T-34A Mentor and some Piper aircraft

Peru's air force, the only other Latin American Sukhoi user, operates over 50 Su-20s and Su-22s alongside other Russian and Chinese equipment. The country raised the prospect of a Latin American arms race when it acquired at least 12 Belarussian-owned Mikoyan MiG-29s late in 1996.

Source: Flight International