Lockheed Martin Corp. has won a $480 million contract to upgrade Argentina's air force and to operate the country's military aircraft modernization center for 25 years starting July 1, the company and the Argentine government announced yesterday.
Lockheed plans to develop the facility, the Fabricas Militares Aviation Center at Cordoba, into a regional aerospace center for the Southern Hemisphere, the company said yesterday.
"We project a substantial international market for aircraft modernization," said J. A. "Micky" Blackwell, president of Lockheed Martin's aeronautics sector. "Cordoba offers the resources, skills and proven expertise to be highly competitive."
The core of the agreement is a pair of contracts to modernize airplanes for the Argentine air force. One contract, valued at $200 million, calls for Lockheed Martin to overhaul, repair, and modify existing Argentine aircraft. The other contract, valued at $280 million, is for the modernization of 36 A-4M Skyhawk jets that Argentina is buying from the U.S. Navy.
The Skyhawks will be fitted with a version of the Westinghouse APG 66 radar that has been specially adapted for Argentina and will be designated the ARG-1.
Half the Skyhawks will be upgraded at Lockheed Martin's facilities in Ontario, Calif., and the others will be revamped by Argentine workers at Cordoba.
The plan makes Argentina the fourth foreign country in which Lockheed Martin has permanent aircraft maintenance and modification facilities. Others are Saudi Arabia, Hungary and China.
Lockheed Martin Aircraft Services, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, will create a new company, Lockheed Aircraft Argentina, to operate the new facility.