Military as hell but oh well...
Good anecdote, Luis, but I think that example of restraint was particularly rare and it is fortunate just as well that the Alte. Padilla
didn't open fire on the F-16s. And the only reason Venezuela succeeded in acquiring what was essentially an embargoed product in Latin America at the time was the Reagan administration's greater concern about the arms build-up in Cuba than the sale of two-dozen F-16s to oil-rich Venezuela.
The fact that we are comparing the AF's of Argentina and Bolivia is all the proof one needs! Fact is, simply by the size, population, & GDP comparisons ALONE the ARG military should have a better establishement, just due to overall $$ appropriations. No excuses exist for the current situation.
What about New Zealand? Or Ireland? Or Austria? There isn't always a correlation between a high GDP and a strong military. And there's no reason why there should be. Not every country feels "threatened" and across the First World (even NATO), defence budgets are being slashed.
Once again, there is no excuse for lots of things in Argentina, like the poverty in a nation that could fed itseld three times over, but the blame for the status quo
can be attributed to as many people as you want it to be and really it doesn't alter the realities in the slightest.
The cozing up to Brasilia is just another show that Argentina sold out to them (you yourself just said the relations are now 'warmer' because Argentina downsized, did Brazil??). Economically I've known this since Mercosur's inception, and now Argentina is subordinate to them politically and militarily too. I believe in warm relations with all nations specially our neighbors, I don't believe in warm relations based on the perception that we can't stand up for ourselves (which is all that this 'let's ask Brazil if it's OK' diplomacy has been really about for 10 years now). To this day I remain stunned that the average Porteño doesn't care about that.
There is a lot of room for debate about Mercosur but I think it should be left aside for now. Your point about Argentine-Brazilian military relations is not entirely true. It is courtesy of Argentina that the Brazilian Navy can deploy fighter aircraft at sea, since part of the deal in allowing Argentina to share the "NAe. Sao Paolo"
is that the Argentines help train the Brazilian Skyhawk pilots for carrier operations.
And whoever gets the upper hand in the alliance, it is ultimately an impressive show of fraternity betweem the two historic rivals that they can form a joint air wing on the same carrier. The Argentine Super pilots benefit too from maintaining their carrier qualifications, in so doing justifying the retention of fixed-wing aircraft in the Argentine Navy.
You've got to ask yourself the security threats faced in each country: Brazil has a need for a large COIN force (enter the AMX and Super Tucano), while Argentina's needs would be amply satisfied by the acquisition of more utlity and SAR helicopters for all the forces, transports for the Air Force and Army, and jet trainers for the Air Force and Navy. The need for combat aircraft has diminished somewhat.
I too lament the pathetic state of the Argentine military (esp. that it took 21 years
to complete their latest MEKO frigate, the "ARA Gómez Roca"
), for if the equipment it still had was actually operational, it wouldn't be the laughing stock of South America. The Air Force and the Navy are still (on paper) one the strongest in the region, and their pilots, some of the best. But you know as well as I do that with the kleptocratic nature of the Argentine government, how is the military ever going to receive the necessary funds?
Finally, when you ask what
is not going to plan in AR
's fleet revamp, just count the aircraft that arrive on time because thus far, both 747-400s have arrived late, so too will the third, and I wouldn't wager a fortune on the new 737s arriving before Christmas either. Maybe this time all will go according to plan, but judging from Marsans' track-record, I doubt it, don't you?