A new level of Argentine-Chinese cooperation has led to agreements for the procurement of a new ice breaker, naval tugs and warships. The collaboration is a boost to the Argentine Navy, which is severely underfunded and struggles to maintain a seaworthy fleet.
It has previously considered OPV designs from Brazil, Germany and Spain, but has accepted the offer of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation’s P18 corvette. The morecapable export version of the PLAN’s Type 056 displaces 1,800 tonnes and can be armed with up to eight anti-ship missiles, a 76mm main gun, two 30 mm cannons and two triple torpedo launchers, and can carrya medium-size helicopter.
Local reports suggest the Argentine ships, provocatively named the Malvinas class (referring to the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands) will also feature a towed array sonar to increase their anti-submarine capability. The first two are expected to be built in China and the remainder co-produced in Argentina, with deliveries starting in 2017.