The Argentinian government has moved to fast-track a proposed defence agreement with Russia after rapidly obtaining congressional approval.

The agreement will clear the way for Argentina's ministry of defence to procure Russian military equipment to address pressing air force and naval equipment needs.

The air force's most urgent requirement is for the modernisation of its rotary-wing fleet, comprising a handful of Bell UH-1H/212s. According to local sources, the ministry of defence intends to immediately start negotiations on the purchase of 12 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters. In the longer term, further Mi-17s are expected to be acquired for the army.

Argentina is also expected to open talks with Ukraine on the purchase of Antonov An-70/72 tactical transports to replace Lockheed Martin C-130E/Hs. The air force has been hard-pressed to fulfil its tactical transport commitments because of difficulties in maintaining acceptable Hercules availability rates. Setting up an Antonov production facility in Argentina may be on the agenda.

Source: Flight International