Colombia buys 13 jets
by Judy Maltz
Jerusalem Post, 15 October 1988
Columbia’s Defence Minister, General Rafael Samudio Molina, last week signed a $200 million-contract finalizing the purchase of 13 Kfir planes from Israel Aircraft Industries.
The contract, which has been under negotation for several years, has been viewed as critical to IAI’s recovery following the cancelation of the Lavi project. Under its terms, IAI will provide the Colombian air force with refurbished Kfir fighter planes, upgraded with new electronic systems. Several of the Kfirs will be used as refuelling planes for the French Mirage aircraft, which currently serve as the backbone of the Colombian airforce.
Columbia purchased 18 Mirage planes from France at the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s, which have since undergone upgrading work at IAI.
The Columbian defence minister was here on a four-day visit.
The decision to purchase the Israeli-made Kfirs received the approval of the Columbian government last April, during a visit by Energy Minister Moshe Shahal to the Latin American country. Shahal said the decision was linked to his signing a contract to purchase two million tons of coal from Columbia over the next four years.
Another $200 million contract IAI had been pinning its hopes on for some time, however, seems less likely to materialize. This contract, to upgrade the Spanish air force’s 50 Mirage planes, hsa become a source of political controversy in that country, with the French exerting pressure on Spain not to award it to Israel.