Argentina has taken a step towards strengthening its maritime defence capabilities by acquiring four P3 Orion aircraft, enhancing its surveillance and search and rescue abilities in the South Atlantic.

This builds upon the existing four P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft procured from Lockheed Martin in 2020, according to GlobalData’s Argentina Armed Forces – Equipment Inventory 2023 report.

The signing ceremony, led by Minister of Defence Jorge Taiana and the head of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Julio Guardia, was a move to enhance Argentina’s control and surveillance over the South Atlantic. 

These aircraft, known for their observation capacity and extended flight autonomy, are set to monitor the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and search and rescue missions. The acquisition adds to Argentina’s ongoing efforts to improve its surveillance and control over its waters.

Last month, Argentina also enhanced its naval surveillance and airforce capacity with a letter of intent to acquire eight AW 109 helicopters from Leonardo. These helicopters will also play a role in strengthening the Argentine Navy’s surveillance and control efforts in the South Atlantic, particularly within the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Taiana stated: “The acquisition of these aircraft constitutes a great contribution to strengthening the policy that we are developing to improve the surveillance and control of our waters. We are the ones who guarantee control in our waters.”

Guardia emphasised the aircraft’s capabilities: “These four aircraft are central to the Force, allowing almost continuous presence in our areas of interest, thanks to the enormous autonomy they have, the radar systems, and some other technical elements.”

One of the key aspects of the acquisition is the aircraft’s ability to recover long-range exploration capacity in the EEZ and increase its presence in maritime areas of interest, including the Argentine Antarctic. These capabilities will be important for monitoring living and non-living resources and naval lines of communication.

Negotiations for incorporating these aircraft began in March, culminating in the signing of the agreement. The acquisition, funded through the National Defense Fund, will further solidify Argentina’s commitment to safeguarding its sovereignty and marine resources.

These aircraft have an extensive operational radius, enabling them to cover the Argentine maritime coastline, continental shelf and the Antarctic. Their ability to operate in all weather conditions, advanced sensor systems and communication equipment position them as assets in search and rescue operations.

The Argentine Navy will collaborate with the Joint Maritime Command to conduct surveillance and control operations in the national jurisdiction’s maritime and river spaces.

The acquisition also includes transferring the entire maintenance system, accessories, spare parts and components from Norway to the Alte Naval Air Base in Trelew, Chubut province. Argentina’s military planning for defence, as outlined in the political directive of National Defense (Decree 457/21), identifies the need for strategic control of vast territorial spaces, a task for which these aircraft are well-suited.

The aircraft’s arrival on Argentine shores marks a leap forward in the country’s maritime defence capabilities.

The event was attended by key figures including the director of the Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency, Magnus Hansvold, and the Norwegian ambassador to Argentina, Halvor Sætre, highlighting the collaborative nature of this defence agreement.