In view of the information published on offers made to Colombia for the acquisition of new air superiority aircraft, the Colombian Air Force has issued the following:
1. For more than four years, the Colombian Air Force has carried out an analysis of technical, operational and logistical factors in order to establish which would be the most suitable platforms to replace the Kfir aircraft fleet which are currently in service.
2. Replacing aircraft is a process that takes time, for the management of resources to finance the project, the willingness of states to provide them, production lines for the purchase of new aircraft or the availability of used ones, among many other factors to consider.
3. The Air Superiority Squadron that the Air Force operates (Kfir C-12) currently has the latest technology to respond to all the operational requirements demanded by its constitutional mission: the defense of sovereignty.
Being at the highest point of its capability in terms of language, training, techniques, tactics, procedures and also technology, is precisely what has allowed the Colombian Air Force to participate with the Kfir in very demanding combined exercises, such as Red Flag, where interoperability demands the most rigorous operational standards.
Saab exhibited its Gripen at the Colombian air show earlier this month.
4. The Colombian Air Force periodically checks the status of its fleet to determine the useful life of the equipment and the suitability of its replacement.
Notwithstanding the capabilities of the Kfir system, the life of the aircraft structure, the logistic support chain, the sustainability of the equipment, the cost-benefit ratio, among other aspects, have led to establishing, in the Aircraft Replacement Plan, a priority for the replacement of this aircraft.
5. Different countries, including Spain, Sweden and the United States, have submitted formal proposals to Colombia to replace their Air Superiority Squadron.
6. According to the Defense and Security Policy for Legality, Entrepreneurship and Equity, it is the interest of the Colombian State to strengthen military defense capabilities for deterrence.
In this sense, aircraft such as SAAB Gripen, Eurofighter and F-16 are under evaluation, a process that will allow the service to present recommendations for decision-making, at a time to be determined by the national government.
The Colombian Air Force maintains its constant disposition and commitment for the defense of national sovereignty and security, developing military operations with high technical and operational enlistment, and with trained and well-prepared crews for the fulfillment of the mission.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The aircraft short-listed by Colombia as potential replacement for its Kfirs are an improbable trio, comprising possibly new-build but probably used Swedish Air Force Gripen C/Ds, Eurofighter – probably former Spanish Air Force Tranche 1 aircraft – and either used or new-build Lockheed F-16s.
The United States has offered to sell Colombia 15 of the most advanced F-16 combat jets “to defend their airspace,” Foreign Policy reported July 18.
However, the $300 million price quoted is entirely unrealistic -- as Bulgaria was offered eight F-16V fighters for $1.25 billion – casting considerable doubt on the report’s credibility.
Finally, while Reuter reports Colombia could spend $1 billion on new fighters to replace its Kfirs, Colombia’s Defense Minister Guillermo Botero told his country’s Congress in October that the country could not afford to buy air-defense missiles worth $370 million “because we don’t have the budget,” which makes it hard to see how it could come up in the short term with over a billion dollars to buy new fighters.)