Argentina’s suffering economy will be unable to support vital defence modernisation over the next several years GlobalData intelligence indicates. However, US defence exports may see an uptick under a prospective administration led by the US presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Besides being cut from the same political cloth, Trump has previously endorsed the libertarian eccentric Javier Milei as Argentine president for his austere economic measures.

Moreover, the Argentine government’s decision to purchase 24 US-manufactured F-16 Fighting Falcon jets from Denmark at the end of March 2024, over the Chinese JF-17 fighter, points to a diplomatic understanding between the two nations.

Defence modernisation is key

“Modernisation is going to be key for Argentina in future years, and today,” GlobalData Defence Analyst Wilson Jones observed.

“Our Intelligence Centre tool indicates 57.8% of all units in their fleet are older than 30 years, which is very high. The cost of maintaining such old pieces will continue to rise, but so does the cost of buying new kit.”

Currently, Argentina’s combat and transport aircraft, armoured vehicles, and artillery units are in a poor state. It is doubtful that Argentina could respond effectively to a direct military threat to its security or national interests. There are scarce financial resources to fund or modernise the armed forces.

Argentina cannot respond to defence decline alone

GlobalData intelligence suggests that the Argentine government is anticipated to stabilise its defence investment in the next decade.

Last year the country’s procurement growth rate fell to -29%, GlobalData expects this figure to fall further to -64.9% this year.

However, Argentina is due to see an acquisition growth rate of 178.9% in 2025 and the givernment will continue to steadily invest 0.1% each year thereafter.

Argentine defence budget and growth rate, 2020-29. Credit: GlobalData.

A prospective Trump administration?

Since the inauguration of incumbent president Joe Biden in 2021, US defence exports to Argentina have fallen considerably. GlobalData says that the US has only given transport and utility aircraft since he came to office. Most recently, the US State Department green-lit Argentina’s purchase of a Basler BT-67 turboprop aircraft in mid-April.

Graph displaying US defence exports to Argentina, 2017-23. Credit: GlobalData.

During Trump’s administration (2017-21), the US government exported maritime patrol aircraft worth $589m, training and light attack aircraft worth $259m, armoured multi-role vehicles worth $103m, transport and utility helicopters worth $156m, tactical trucks worth $86m and light utility vehicles worth $2m to Argentina.

“I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that a second Trump administration would greenlight more sales to Argentina,” another GlobalData defence analyst Fox Walker suggested.