Argentine and Danish officials pictured at the F-16 contract signing ceremony, Skrydstrup Air Base (Photo: Danish Ministry of Defence)

BELFAST — Argentina closed on a $300 million contract with Denmark for 24 second hand Royal Danish Air Force F-16 fighter jets Tuesday during a signing ceremony at Skrydstrup Air Base in Denmark.

Danish Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen and Argentinian Defense Minister Luis Alfonso Petri signed the contract, according to a translated Danish Ministry of Defence statement. It did not mention a dollar figure for the contract, but a figure of $300 million has been widely reported and attributed to the Argentine government.

“I am very pleased that the Danish F-16 aircraft, which have served us well over the years and have been thoroughly maintained and technologically updated, [will] now be used in the Argentine Air Force,” said Lund Poulsen. “With the deal, we are strengthening Danish-Argentinian defense cooperation, while Argentina will become part of the global F-16 family.”

The contract signing comes less than a month after Alfonso Petri and Lund Poulsen agreed on a letter of intent for the sale of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, which have already been approved for transfer by the US government. The Danish MoD did not disclose when deliveries will take place, but the jets are set to rebuild Argentina’s strike capabilities, almost a decade after retiring Dassault Mirage III fighter aircraft.

By dismissing a rival offer for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)/Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) JF-17 Thunder fighter, Argentina has sided against cooperation with China, a prospect the US had strongly opposed. Buenos Aires also declined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas jets pitched by India.

Jakob Linnet Schmidt, an analyst at the Danish Institute for International Studies, previously told Breaking Defense that the F-16s bound for Argentina are thought to be in “good condition” and are likely to fly for another decade, “thus creating a bilateral cooperation between the US and Argentina for years to come.”

Denmark is also committed to supplying Ukraine with 19 F-16 jets, the first of which will be delivered this summer. A further 26 aircraft have been promised by European nations.

Danish F-16s are set to be replaced by 27 Lockheed Martin F-35A fifth generation fighter jets, the first four of which were delivered to Skrydstrup Air Base in October 2023. The manufacturer said at the time that a further six Danish aircraft were based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Additional deliveries planned for the first half of 2024 have been delayed to the second half of the year, because of Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) development and testing software upgrade difficulties faced by Lockheed Martin, according to the Danish Ministry of Defence.