Now Super Etendard For Ukraine!

June 12, 2024

My last article was on the stated intent of France to supply Ukraine with Mirage 2000 jets which they are in the process of phasing out of service. Now this week comes the news that Argentina is offering to supply Ukraine with Super Etendard attack jets!

I’ll be honest, I did not see that one coming.

According to reports in the Argentine press, Argentina’s President Javier Milei, has said that he has approved a plan to send five Super Etendards – often shortened to “SE’s” – to Ukraine as military assistance. This particular type of aircraft gained fame for their use by Argentina during the 1982 Falklands War, when they used Exocet anti-ship missiles to sink the destroyer HMS Sheffield and the merchant vessel Atlantic Conveyor.

Built originally as a carrier strike fighter in the 1970’s, the combination of the SE and the Exocet inspired consternation in the Royal Navy during the Falkland’s War and then to tanker captains in the Gulf when Iraq utilized the same combo during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. An evolution of an earlier design, the SE was reasonable enough in its day, if a bit of a light weight as an attack aircraft.

But the type was, as far as anyone knew, essentially defunct and out of service, which makes this announcement even more surprising. The Iraqis and French have long since phased the aircraft out, and Argentina’s entire stock of SE’s are currently in storage and have been subject to an embargo on British-made components since 1982.

The Argentines state that they have been in negotiations with France, assumably concerning getting the aircraft back into operation and training Ukrainians in how to use them, as well as with the United States and NATO on the plan.

It also should be noted that Argentina isn’t doing this as an act of charity. They are asking for equipment in exchange, with drones and helicopters being cited, for which they will then transfer the SE’s to the French who will be the responsible party for ongoing transfer, leaving Argentina still notionally neutral in the affair.

It is also interesting to consider the actual value that the SE’s would bring to the conflict for Ukraine. The Super Etendard is an old design that, though it saw upgrading with the French and plenty of action, could never be considered a front-rank performer. Considering the significant air threat over the Russo-Ukrainian battle space that they would have to deal with, the SE’s would probably need considerable upgrading or reequipping, principally with ECM equipment, to be survivable.

But as the Ukrainian’s are using just about everything anyone is giving them, plus some of the rather remarkable successes their pilots have had during the ongoing conflict, well, they might think that something is better than nothing and will take what they can get.

Of course, this all relies on a lot of international cooperation, with the US and France both overseeing  the transfer of far more advanced aircraft to Ukraine and so perhaps not too keen on adding yet another jet into the mix to further complicate things. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing gets scuppered.

But to be honest, if you have said to me yesterday someone was talking about sending  SE’s to Ukraine, I would have said “Huh!” With the way the world is currently, maybe the SE’s will be useful as a simpler airframe to familiarize Ukrainian pilots and ground personnel with western equipment in quick fashion in contrast to the more complex F-16s and Mirage’s?

So, stay tuned, because maybe we will see Super Etendard’s flying anti-shipping strikes once again in the future.

Related:

Mirage 2000 for Ukraine; Macron Doubling Down

The Jaguar M; When the Big Cat Went to Sea

UK Block on South Korean Jet Fighters Means Argentine Air Force Continues to Stagnate

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