BOGOTA ($1=4,762.82 Colombian Pesos) — The Colombian government has pre-selected France’s Dassault Rafale as its new supersonic fighter jet to replace the now-obsolete Kfir jet. Kfir is currently used by the Colombian Air Force. The information was confirmed by the Presidency of the Republic and the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ivan Velazquez.
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Minister Velázquez spoke about Rafale’s selection during an interview on a local radio station. Through a press release, the government explained that it is currently negotiating the acquisition of 16 new aircraft for a sum of 15 billion pesos [approximately $3 billion].
The administration led by Gustavo Petro wants to clarify that nothing has been signed yet and that this is a preliminary selection in which the final details are still being negotiated. He also explained that proposals from Sweden with the Saab Gripen and from the United States with the Lockheed Martin F-16 were also evaluated.
However, the government confirms that “for now, the proposal for a Rafale aircraft is the best option for the country in terms of price, efficiency, and operability”. In this sense, it was specified that “one hour of Rafale flight is approximately 30% cheaper than one hour of Kfir flight, valued at 89 million pesos” [$18,700].
According to Velázquez, the first batch, if an agreement is finally reached, will be between three to five aircraft worth $678 million that will arrive in the country in 2023.
Compensation and payment from the fifth year
The presidency confirmed that all proposals studied include industrial compensation and technology and knowledge transfer to achieve “greater growth in the country’s aeronautics, cyber security, and defense and aerospace sector”.
In addition, the Colombian government emphasized that if the purchase is completed, the resources from the tax reform will not be used and that the acquired debt “will begin to be paid off within five years.”
“For both the President and the Department of Defense, we must leave a strengthened, modern and combat-ready Armed Forces, not for war, but to ensure national sovereignty and the security of citizens,” the released document concludes.
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