Dassault targets Colombia to introduce Rafale in South America

French manufacturer submitted proposal for 15 fighter jets to the Air Force, which also considers the F-16 and Gripen NG

Once dominant in the South American air forces, Dassault is suffering from a long hiatus in orders in the region. But the manufacturer may have another chance in Colombia, says La Tribune columnist Michel Cabirol.

The Colombian Air Force already considered the Rafale fighter among potential candidates to replace its old IAI Kfir, but initially the plan was to rely on second-hand aircraft from the Armée de l’Air.

However, France would no longer have stock of the fighter after transferring part of them to Greece. Instead, the proposal currently presented includes 15 new Rafales, plus nine purchase options.

In addition to the Rafale, the Saab Gripen NG and the Lockheed Martin F-16 also appear among the participants of the competition, with a possible favoritism of the North American jet, due to the alignment of the current government with the United States.

Colombian´s IAI Kfir (S.C. Air National Guard)

Change of administration

But a new factor could change this scenario and favor Dassault, the election of Gustavo Petro, a leftist candidate, to the presidency of Colombia.

It was with a leftist politician, former Brazilian president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, that the Rafale came to be considered the model chosen in the competition to replace the Mirage 2000 in the Brazilian Air Force.

However, the announcement of the victory of the Dassautl fighter ended up being denied by the Air Force, which already pointed to the Gripen NG as a cheaper and more efficient competitor.

According to the newspaper La Tribune, Colombia hardly buys arms from France, the fifth largest arms exporter in the world. “Will the election of Gustavo Petro change the situation? That’s what we expect in Paris, remaining very cautious at this stage,” said columnist Michel Cabirol.