After the announcement by Defense Minister Iván Velásquez on September 17 about the budget cut of around 800,000 million Colombian pesos (160 million dollars), one of the most affected military branches was aviation.
According to Cambio magazine, the cut for the Air Force was 200,000 million pesos (40 million dollars), and they assure “Colombia only has combat planes for two years and there is no money to buy new ones.”
The situation worries the military authorities since it is necessary to renew their fleet of 19 Israeli-made Kfir planes — dating from 1989 and 11 refurbished in 2009 — for the maintenance of public order.
The retired general and former commander of the Air Force, Guillermo León, affirmed the Government’s cut in the budget affects the comprehensive national defense system. “The tasks of this mission are established in article 217 of the National Constitution, which is the defense of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and constitutional order that will be affected by the Government’s decision to dismantle the process of acquiring new security equipment,” León said to Cambio.
Since 2013, the Colombian Air Force has analyzed the replacement of Israeli aircraft, but the lack of decision extended during several political administrations and the very useful life of the aircraft. For León, the visit of President Gustavo Petro last October to the Palanquero base could lead to a change on the part of the Government.
There he learned first-hand about the capabilities of these planes. the acquisition of the air fleet within a period of five years,” said the former general.