According to Infodefensa´s correspondant, Erich Saumeth, the Republic of Colombia has sent a Letter of Request for pricing on 18 U.S. Government F-16 fighters. These USAF and ANG fighters as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) could be taken both from aircraft still in service or aircraft stored and mothballed within the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. AMARG currently holds an inventory of 136 single seat F-16C and 13 two seat F-16D, of 30 to 35 years old but also U.S. Government could instead offer aircraft still in active duty, this being said a “hot transfer”.
Colombia’s current main fighters are IAI Kfir COA, which are Kfir’s recently upgraded by Israel Aircraft Industries but with logistical sundown coming on them due to their exclusive J-79 powerplant, as their age also of 30 years old. While upgraded with state of the art AESA EL-M/2052 radar, Emerald self-protection suite, comms, navigation and attack equipment. These Kfirs are capable of firing active radar medium range Derby missile as for off boresight Python 5’s WVRs and guided air to ground weapons.
Colombia’s limited budget has constantly postponed the replacement of its frontline fleet. Many options have been considered before, even second hand spanish Eurofighter Typhoons but more of make belief than an actual serious replacement considering operational cost of these heavyweight aircraft. Israel reportedly has offered in different occasions its F-16A/B Netz fleet to Colombia but until now such offerings have been turned down.
The requested U.S. F-16’s aircraft according to Foreign Military Sales (FMS) recent policy should receive a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) and upgrade to be a respected vector of regional deterrence, especially considering the one certified upgrade program for these Vipers while the IAI and BAE Systems offered ones have not yet been certified or have been consistently boycotted by the U.S. Government. No second hand F-16 has been upgraded so far using other than the current package and only new built aircraft have gotten permission for new equipment and weapons integration has been converted as of yet Thus an expensive enterprise compared to newly built aircraft with flexible financing and offsets for Colombia.
On the other hand, Croatia has recently purchased two seat F-16D from Israel, although their equipment or lifespan details has not been disclosed, the cost of this operation that could be state funded through government to government agreements could be an interesting reference to a possible and similar purchase by Colombia.
Political consensus is of the essence, while U.S. could object to a possible sale of second hand aircraft and equipment upgrades to Colombia considering a possible loss for the U.S. military-industrial complex or deny the transfer if the aircraft were to be delivered by a U.S. military assistance program to Israel and then reject the end user agreement transfer to the Colombian Air Force.