The US Government has approved the potential sale of a support package for Argentina’s recently acquired P-3C Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

The US State Department cleared the $78.03m transaction to be carried out as a foreign military sale. It includes the delivery of related equipment and services.

In September, the Argentine Navy procured four P-3C aircraft from the US under the Excess defence articles (EDA) programme, a US Department of Defense initiative to transfer military equipment from its stockpiles to foreign allies.

The sale is subject to approval from Congress.

Under the deal, Argentina will receive four turboprop engines for the aircraft and an additional four turboprop engines.

The package also covers communications and radar equipment; Infrared/Electro-optic equipment, and aviation life support systems.

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In addition, the US will provide spares and repairs, aircraft depot maintenance, and other logistical support.

The procurement of the P-3C aircraft was intended to replace the country’s six ageing Ρ-3Β Orion aircraft and maintain its maritime security. The Ρ-3Βs are no longer in operational service with the navy.

In a media release, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said: “These EDA aircraft need this refurbishment and equipment to be fully operational.

“It is vital to the US national interest to assist Argentina in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defence maritime patrol aircraft capability. Argentina will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”

The primary contractors in the support sale are Logistic Services International, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins and Eagle Systems.

The Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion is capable of performing air, surface and subsurface patrol and reconnaissance activities. It can support a range of missions, including peacekeeping and surveillance, submarine hunting, and targeting ground-based strike points.