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Colombia pauses negotiations again on Kfir fleet replacement

9th January 2023 - 20:04 GMT | by Wilder Alejandro Sanchez in Washington DC

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In the absence of a replacement, Colombia is looking to cannibalise some of its 23-strong Kfir fleet for spares to keep the remainder flying. (Photo: FAC)

Funding problems and an expired government directive mean the Colombian Air Force will have to find ways to keep its ageing IAI Kfir fleet in service for longer.

Colombia’s Minister of Defence Iván Velásquez announced on 2 January that negotiations to replace the Colombian Air Force’s (FAC's) fleet of IAI Kfir C10/12 multirole combat aircraft have stalled. As a result, the FAC will have to continue flying its ageing warplanes for the foreseeable future.

Velásquez explained to Caracol Radio that negotiations with aircraft manufacturers Dassault and Saab, offering the Rafale and Gripen respectively, did not move forward. 

A governmental directive (known locally as CONPES 4078) approved by the previous Duque administration expired on 31 December. The minister explained that a new directive needs to be approved by the current Petro administration for negotiations to commence again. 

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He further explained to the Colombian daily El Tiempo in a 3 January interview that the previous CONPES allocated $678 million 'for the purchase of aircraft, which is much less than what a fleet of 16 warplanes costs'. Velásquez did not disclose when a new CONPES directive might be drafted.

In the meantime, the FAC will continue flying its Kfir fleet. Velásquez noted that this year the service will select which Kfir aircraft will be decommissioned due to their age. 'It is possible to provide maintenance for some aircraft with parts from the decommissioned planes,' he told Colombian media.

The Kfirs are the tip of the spear of the FAC’s aerial warfighting capabilities. The service also operates fixed-wing light attack aircraft, including the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light and Cessna A-37 Dragonfly.

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

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Wilder Alejandro Sanchez


Wilder Alejandro Sánchez is an analyst who covers defense & security, geopolitical, and trade issues …

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