Military Aviation

Colombian Air Force closes in on purchase of 16 Dassault Rafale Omnirole fighter jets to replace Israeli-made Kfir aircraft

The Colombian government said on Dec. 21, 2022 that Colombia has shortlisted a French bid to sell 16 Rafale fighter planes to the South American nation for up to $3.15 billion.

The Colombian government said on Dec. 21, 2022 that Colombia has shortlisted a French bid to sell 16 Rafale fighter planes to the South American nation for up to $3.15 billion.

The country wants to replace the Israeli-made Kfir aircraft it acquired in the late 1980s, and would use the new planes to defend its territory, fight organized crime and conduct aerial surveillance.

Colombia also considered two other bids from the United States and Sweden, which offered deals for F-16 and Gripen aircraft, respectively.

“The Government shortlisted the proposal submitted by the Government of France, for the acquisition of 16 Rafale aircraft,” the office of Colombia’s president’s said in a statement.

“So far, the Rafale aircraft proposal is the best option for the country in relation to price, efficiency and operability. One hour of flight time in a Rafale aircraft is approximately 30% cheaper than one hour of flight time in a Kfir,” the statement said.

The Colombian government added that to date, no contracts have been signed.

As reported by Reuters, President Gustavo Petro, who in August became the South American country’s first left-wing president, announced his decision over the weekend to start renewing the Colombian Air Force (FAC, Fuerza Aérea Colombiana) fleet.

The service Kfir fighter jets have been in use for more than 42 years and have been operating in Colombia for more than 30 years. Since FAC is practically the only operator of the Kfir and given that no spare parts are produced for the aircraft the operation and maintenance of the Israeli-made fighter jet is costly and can be risky.

“The limitations of the Kfir aircraft hinder actions to guarantee aerial surveillance, the fight against organized crime and national security,” the Colombian government said.

According to Dassault, the Rafale, with its “Omnirole” capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments.

It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.

The Rafale participates in permanent “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) / air-defense / air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Joshua A. Hoskins / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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