According to Infodefensa, the Colombian Air Force’s Air Combat Command has issued on July 5th a report on the current status of the IAI Kfir COA fleet, comprised now of 3 twin seaters and 19 single seater aircraft, which are supported by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Lahav Division.
Among specifics in which of the aircraft are in service or not, the main concern is related to depot maintenance or budget cuts in which the Air Force is under that causes delays on pending field level maintenance, since they acknowledge that IAI is in full compliance of their 128-00-A-COFAC-CAF-2018. Having demonstrated its new systems and capabilities in a fair transition to the 4th generation, colombian Kfirs fall short on providing a fully-fledged deterrence against, although in desperate need of an upgrade, Venezuelan Su-30MK2. The Venezuelan Sukhois, probably with russian assistance, are being brought back to service.
A few days ago, the F-Air Colombia expo took place where aviation and defense related industries have gathered and to that effect, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Saab have presented their proposals for Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche III, F-16V Block 70 and JAS-39NG respectively. All what’s been offered holds an actual political commitment to each of the nations where they come from as large as its price tag.
The size of U.S. involvement in Colombia should present itself as a near certain agreement and to that purpose, the commander of the 12th Air Force, Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, has pitched the sale of such F-16V Block 70 directly to the Colombian Air Force as to provide the bonafides that, if chosen, the Congress and the Department of State would approve accordingly, as correspondent Erich Saumeth recently informed and Croft to Foreign Policy.
But something to take in consideration is the fact that the USAF does not use this F-16 variant which is only for export since all the efforts are committed towards the F-35A. Thus, such variant would be considered “non-standard” and not eligible for the CLSSA program which provides allied nation’s air forces for the same provisions and prices as the U.S. military gets. And therefore, a much higher cost, not even in the use of particular avionics and systems or the F110 variant specifically developed for the Block 70 aircraft.
The Colombian AF does not ignore that and months ago requested a proposal for a sale of recently decommissioned or in-service ANG or USAF F-16C/Ds. For sure, a decision will be made on the highest political level, but the fact is not just to choose and wisely but also the need to provide the resources to operate and maintain the aircraft and not just to leave millions of dollars of deterrence and sovereignty in a maintenance hangar.