Colombia restarts competition for new fighter, with Rafale, F-16 and Gripen in the running

The country’s Air Force needs to replace the old Israeli Kfir. Saab fighter can be produced in neighboring Brazil

According to recent statements by the Deputy Minister of Defense of Colombia, Javier Mondragón, the Colombian Air Force (FAC) has restarted the bidding process for the new fighter that should replace the old Israeli IAI Kfir jets in service in the country. The information was brought by Zona Militar.

In December 2022, the Colombian government announced that it had a “pre-negotiation” for the purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters, implying that the French fighter plane had been selected by the FAC.

However, a few days later, the Colombian Ministry of Defense went back and informed that the decision was not final and also started to consider the acquisition of the new Swedish jet Saab Gripen E.

This time, in yet another update of the FAC selection process, Mondragón stated that Colombia is also evaluating the Lockheed Martin F-16, a previously discarded candidate.

Dassault Rafale

The Colombian Air Force operates around 19 Kfir fighters, which were developed by IAI based on the Dassault Mirage III supersonic jet. The country even modernized the aircraft in a process that ended in 2017, however, the advanced age of the airframes makes their replacement urgent.

The Colombian government had an approved budget of US$ 678 million and tried to close a smaller order with Dassault for the Rafales. The French manufacturer, however, prefers a broader agreement, for 16 aircraft.

F-16 Block 70 (LM)

Saab wants to offer the Gripen E/F produced in Brazil

In a statement sent to AIRWAY, Saab said it was very interested in supplying the Gripen to Colombia, supported by the partnership with Brazil, which has just put the fighter into service.

“If we are successful with Gripen sales in Colombia, there will be opportunities for greater involvement of the Brazilian industry in areas such as development, flight test and final assembly at Embraer”, said the manufacturer.

Saab Gripen E

The Swedish manufacturer explained that the Gripen fighter has three advanced cockpit displays, the Wide Area Display (WAD), the Head Display (HUD) and the Helmet Display (HMD) – which are developed and produced by the Brazilian company AEL Sistemas .

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“In the Latin American context, Brazil is the hub where we want to do as much work as possible. The Brazilian industry is part of the global production chain and, when we sell to other countries, it will certainly benefit from that. In the case of Colombia, we can have the involvement of the Brazilian industry in areas such as development, production, maintenance, training and logistics, which will be evaluated, considering the needs of Colombia”, the company said.


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