The Argentinian Air Force is considering purchasing retired CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the United States. This decision was made due to difficulties in maintaining their Russian Mi-171E helicopters as a result of current sanctions against Russia.
The Argentinian government has sent a formal request to the United States for CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. General Xavier Issac, head of the Argentinian Air Force, has signed a contract with Columbia Helicopters, a US-based company, for the renovation, modernization, and potential modification of the CH-46 helicopters.
The Argentinian Air Force purchased two Mi-171Es in 2010 for $26.5 million, and they have been used for operations in Antarctica since 2011. Maintenance of these helicopters has become problematic due to sanctions against Russia, affecting payments and dispatch of helicopters. Other countries, such as Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, were unable to provide maintenance solutions as they are not certified to work on Mi-171E engines.
The CH-46 Sea Knight, a tandem-rotor medium transport helicopter, was originally designed by Boeing Vertol and is capable of carrying up to 25 soldiers in full equipment or a maximum payload of 4,000 pounds. The CH-46 has a maximum speed of about 165 knots (around 190 mph or 305 km/h) and a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet, powered by two turbine engines. The helicopter is equipped with various navigation and communication systems, making it adaptable to a range of missions, including troop transport, medical evacuation, and logistics operations.
The CH-46 Sea Knight has been retired from service with the US Navy and Marine Corps. General Issac said an Argentinian delegation plans to visit the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Arizona to assess the condition of available CH-46s.
The initial plan is to purchase four helicopters, with an option to double the order. The financial terms of the potential transaction were not specified. The current administration led by President Alberto Fernández is in its final months in power, with elections scheduled for October 22, 2023. It is unclear whether the acquisition will be finalized by the current administration or deferred to the next government.