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Argentina turns to local industry in naval modernisation push

23rd March 2023 - 14:00 GMT | by Wilder Alejandro Sanchez in Washington DC

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Photos: Corvette ARA Robinson (P-45) departs port on 17 January 2023 to carry out a patrol operation. (Source: Argentine Navy, 17 January 2023)

Local companies will build a new landing ship and floating dock, modernise in-service corvettes and develop a naval surveillance radar.

Argentina is turning to local industry to build up and modernise its surface fleet and develop a new maritime radar.

The Argentine MoD signed an agreement on 9 March with local shipyards Tandanor and Río Santiago to construct a multipurpose landing ship and a floating dock. Moreover, the companies will modernise the navy’s six MEKO-140 multipurpose corvettes.

Construction of a multipurpose vessel will 'allow us to provide a better and faster response when an emergency or natural disaster occurs', said Defence Minister Jorge Taiana. 

Speaking to Shephard, RAdm (ret) Máximo Pérez-León-Barreto of the Argentine Navy, and director of strategic affairs at Fundación Argentina Global, added that the new vessel will increase the service’s limited 'power projection' and 'improve maritime governance'. 

Construction is scheduled to begin 'before August 2023', the ministry noted in a 9 March press release. However, the MoD has not disclosed the design of the vessel or provided additional specifications, nor what type of upgrades will be made to the MEKO corvettes.

The floating dock meanwhile will be located at Ushuaia naval base, a 'strategic location' which will allow Argentina to 'repair our ships at lesser cost' and also potentially provide 'emergency services' to ships from other nations. 

The ministry expects the floating dock to service the navy's offshore patrol vessels, Neftegaz-class anchor handling vessels, and the MEKO-140s. Ushuaia is in the southernmost Tierra del Fuego province, facing Antarctica. Argentina is one of seven countries that claim Antarctic territory.

Looking to the future, Argentina requires a 'comprehensive maritime strategy' that includes the country’s naval industry, Pérez-León-Barreto noted.

On 8 March, the MoD announced that domestic company INVAP had been awarded a $14 million contract to construct a 'naval air and surface surveillance radar, based on active electronic vertical scanning technology' to track multiple targets in different scenarios. However, the MoD has not announced when the radar will be delivered.

The multipurpose vessel is the second high-profile shipbuilding project for Argentine shipyards. In December 2021, Buenos Aires announced that Tandanor will build a ship for Antarctic operations; however, the yard had not responded to Shephard’s queries about that project’s status at the time of publication. 

In addition, two training vessels (LICAs) built by Río Santiago for the navy have not yet been delivered, even though they were launched in 2021 and 2022. Pérez-León-Barreto highlighted: 'Río Santiago’s challenge is to keep its workforce and become more competitive.'

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

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Wilder Alejandro Sanchez


Wilder Alejandro Sánchez is an analyst who covers defense & security, geopolitical, and trade issues …

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