Ivan Gonzalez, Sales Director for Combat Aircraft in Airbus Defence & Space, has confirmed that the Government of Colombia has issued a Request for Proposal of 15 brand new Typhoon Tranche 3 multirole fighters as published by Defensa.com. Such a conversation is not new since other requests have been made since 2015.
These aircraft have been offered with “no restrictions” and current operational status including CAESAR active electronically scanned array fire control. This agreement would be financed directly by the Spanish government, paying exactly what is paid by the Spanish Ejercito del Aire for each aircraft to the builder consortium.
Logistics, Support and training would be also included as well as technology and know-how transference directly to the Corporacion de la Industria Aeronautica de Colombia (CIAC). Airbus does not only offer new aircraft, but also can offer used airframes to be upgraded as requested. New aircraft could be delivered in 2025 and refurbished aircraft as soon as 2022. The sum of this possible agreement has not yet been disclosed but customization of these Typhoons to integrate equipment other than the existing, would be entirely up to the Colombian Air Force.
The disclosure of this offer does produce several conclusions as also new questions. The Eurofighter Typhoon is now available for Latin-American exports, this would be the third twin engine full-sized multirole to be since Dassault’s Rafale and Boeing’s Super Hornet were already offered for Brazil’s FX-2 program. Although several rumors, yet unconfirmed, existed of these aircraft being also offered to the Chilean Air Force as well.
Colombia has never operated such a twin engine, high performance aircraft. These require a massive investment both in infrastructure, support, training and its operating costs. Many would consider something like this to be crazy because of the struggle that turned to be the integration of Kfir COA’s almost a decade ago and its dependency on funding from the U.S. for his armed forces. Colombia has also sent several RFP’s with particular interest on Lockheed Martin’s F-16 both new and as Excess Defense Articles (EDA) of the United States Air Force, as we published months ago.
Assumed as a professional armed force, Colombian Air Force most certainly would have made their own numbers and possibilities before even considering escalating such a conversation past some brainstorming session. Most likely a long-term investment, would benefit from the world class sheer power, avionics and weapons capabilities while considering possible regional adversaries such as the Venezuelan Su-30MKV and the Brazilian SAAB JAS-39 Gripen E/F, as well to replace the Kfir COA's in service.
Airbus’s and the Kingdom of Spain’s interest is not a secret, considering challenging differences between partner nations since Italy and U.K., also F-35 partners and future “Team Tempest” partners with Sweden, have started to neglect their compromises made on Eurofighter Typhoon development and upgrades. For that, any export customer, committed and convinced by the superb capabilities of the aircraft in the long term would be critical to the aircraft sustainment.
This has just began.