Ministry of Defense: Colombia will not run out of Kfir planes in January 2024 – Conflict and Drug Trafficking – Justice

Iván Velásquez spoke in an interview with EL TIEMPOof what follows in the process for the purchase of new aircraft, after the time to use the future validity approved in the government of Iván Duque expired.

(Read: This would be the million-dollar investment to replace the Kfir combat aircraft)

Why did the purchase of the planes fall?

No, it’s not that it fell, there was a pre-negotiation and there were many meetings in the last days of last year with the French and Swedish companies, they sought to clarify some technical issues that it was not possible to solve and there was also an economic issue because the Conpes 4078, adopted by the previous government, earmarked 678 million dollars for the purchase of the aircraft and that is much less than what would be required for a fleet of 16 aircraft, as was projected in the Comprehensive National Defense System. .

Iván Velásquez, Minister of Defense


Ministry of Defence

There was the will to acquire up to that value of 678 million dollars, but the technical difficulties that I mentioned were encountered and, in addition, there was a request from them for a postponement, stating that this year it was not possible for them to have the proposal in place. the terms in which it was requested. So, for that reason it was not hired.

What’s next now?

All aircraft acquisition is in two phases, this was the first phase. It happens with future terms that if they are not committed in the planned fiscal year, then new future terms would have to be found. What corresponds now is to define if the purchase is actually made as it had been raised at the end of last year, how many planes would be necessary or how much the Government could commit to their acquisition.

Which would be, in any case, much more money than had been initially discussed…

This is what would have to be defined, it is what should be considered, because until now we were taking advantage of a Conpes from the previous government, which was not designed or decided by this government.

(We recommend reading: The keys to the pre-selection of the Rafale as a replacement for the Kfir)

The process starts from scratch, but do you see it as viable for them to be able to buy in this government?

Yes. These studies have actually been going on for years. In the last stage, which is perhaps from 2012 or 2016, the need for the acquisition is defined, obsolescence is established to start in December 2023. Now we must clarify that it is not that in January 2024 we will run out of aircraft, Rather, a process of decommissioning them begins, but it is a gradual process and this year it will be defined what that process will be like according to the level of obsolescence, and the frequency with which these aircraft will go out of service will be defined.

Is it possible to repower them or do something so they don’t go out of service so quickly?

They can still be maintained, what happens is that the older the planes, the more expensive the maintenance. There are some difficulties: for example, the production of spare parts for the kfir, it is already much more difficult to obtain them and that increases the costs; however, it could be done according to what I have discussed with General Córdoba, commander of the Air Force. Some aircraft could be maintained with useful parts from others that were decommissioned, but that is a process that Air Force technicians have to define.

Is the purchase of aircraft a priority for the Government?

The President has said that the priority is the people and has also stated that the priority is social programs, that the priority is the fight against hunger, the priority is to improve the living conditions of so many millions of compatriots who are In a really difficult subsistence situation, what should be looked at here is in terms of need, rather than talking about priority. So you have to see what the real need for the entire fleet is, when it would be essential to change the aircraft in accordance with that period of obsolescence and when the Kfir should be decommissioned, it is a process that can take years.

And that need is not defined, I understand that they are going to do the studies to see what results…

Yes, here it is, as I was saying, a Conpes that was approved in the Duque government, and taking advantage of these circumstances, President Petro arranged to make the pre-selection and advance in the negotiation and if possible, then allocate those 678 million dollars to the purchase ; now it will be up to us to review in greater detail everything in terms of quantity, need, urgency or not of the acquisition of the aircraft.

(You may be interested in: The powerful warplanes with which Colombia would replace the Kfir)

Did the Conpes that made the purchase viable expire?

It is not really the Conpes that wins, it wins is the appropriation of future validity. The Conpes establishes the manner in which the resources will be appropriated; if it was not committed in the year of the fiscal validity, then those future validity expired, that is, at this moment a new negotiation could not be made with the support of Conpes 4078 without having future validity foreseen to be committed.

Was there pressure from the United States, whose planes were discarded?

No, here in reality there has been no pressure from anyone, neither the United States, nor France, nor Sweden nor any other interested party has put pressure to do or not do the deal.

Some sectors indicated that the validity periods were allowed to expire in order not to make the purchase. What do you answer?

No, that is thinking in bad faith; the Government, the President has sincerely thought about things without double plans or double positions. The President considered that it was convenient to maintain the capabilities of the Military Forces and for this reason he gave the instructions to do so.

Does the Government then believe that progress should be made in the purchase?

We have to define what the real urgency is, because this is an issue that has been raised since I think at least 2008, and all the governments have postponed the decision.

But the review of the need is not going to be immediate?

No, that’s going to take time; how much, I don’t know how to say, but in any case it is not a decision for this week.

Does this mean that the government is not eager to buy the planes?
You need to do the studies.

On twitter: @justiciaET
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