BARRIO – Colombia is negotiating the purchase of 16 Rafale multirole fighter jets for its Air Force, a deal potentially worth $3.15 billion, according to a news release from the country’s president.
Earlier this month, the president had announced during a military ceremony that the country would soon replace its Israeli-made Kfir jets, which are more than 40 years old and approaching the end of their service lives. According to the president’s news release, the operation and maintenance of the Kfirs “have become very expensive and also risky,” as not enough of them remain operational around the world, which makes it difficult to obtain spare parts.
Petro added that the cost of procuring the Kfir replacements “is not going to use a single dime” from funds earmarked for social investment.
Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez later explained that funding will come from a 20-year credit provided by the French government, which includes a grace period of five years before the start of payments.
Colombia’s Air Force has shown interest in the F-16, but officials are concerned over what they consider restrictive conditions associated with acquiring missiles under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
The U.S. State Department did not return requests for comment on Colombia’s missile ambitions.