SANTIAGO, Chile — Argentina has kicked-started the process for procuring four Boeing-made CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the U.S., military sources in Buenos Aires have told Defense News.

Aimed at fulfilling a requirement first issued in 2011, the helicopters are intended for Army and Air Force operations, both in tactical transport and special forces support roles, as well as disaster relief and civil support.

The decision first came to light in Resolution No. 75 of the Argentine military’s joint staff, dated June 10, which said the government had authorized the acquisition process begin by requesting the aircraft through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program.

According to the military sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, the government had studied the Russian-built Mil Mi-26 but decided against buying the aircraft mainly over its size and maneuver capabilities.

The Argentine Air Force had operated three CH-47s between 1980 and 2000. The Army also received two CH-47s in 1980, both of which deployed to the Falkland Islands in 1982, where one was destroyed and the other one captured by British forces.

The plan to acquire four CH-47s is part of a larger government effort to restore the country’s defense capabilities by using a special fund created in 2020. Known as FONDEF — or National Fund for Defense, in English — the mechanism sets apart $400 million annually for military equipment.

Speaking in front to Argentina’s Senate on June 9 — the day before the joint staff resolution was signed — Defense Minister Jorge Taiana underlined the important of FONDEF for bolstering military capabilities.

Taiana said FONDEF investments are planned for the short and medium term to acquire new fighter jets, submarines, cyber defense technology, missiles, rockets, radars and drones, among other materiel, per the Directive of National Policy for Defense, signed in 2021 by Argentine President Alberto Fernández.

The directive is meant to increase Argentina’s military capacities for “defensive, deterrent [and] cooperative ... purposes,” Taiana said.

The acquisition of a first batch of fighter jets is one of the higher priorities, with the Argentine Air Force evaluating the FC-1/JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly developed and produced by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corp. and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.

The service is also considering secondhand, refurbished Lockheed Martin F-16s, with price and financing options considered key factors in making a decision, the military sources said.

José Higuera is a Latin America correspondent for Defense News.

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