Colombia Negotiates Purchase of 16 French Fighter Jets

Colombia is considering buying 16 Rafale fighter jets from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault, the South American country’s presidency said on Wednesday, as it seeks to replace its Israeli Kfir planes.

The South American country has “pre-selected the French government’s offer for the sale of 16 Rafales” after looking at Swedish Gripen and US F-16 planes, the presidency said in a statement.

“There are no signed contracts, it is a preliminary negotiation” for an offer estimated at up to 15 billion pesos (around $3 million), it said.

The Rafales represent “the best option for the country in terms of price, efficiency and operability,” the presidency said.

Before coming to power in August, left-wing president Gustavo Petro had opposed the purchase of new fighter jets.

The presidency said Wednesday that the planes would not be financed by its flagship tax reform.

The reform, approved by Colombia’s Congress last month, sought to hike taxes on the country’s wealthiest as well as its oil sector.

The planes will be paid for “after five years, with the aim of not sacrificing social spending,” the presidency said.

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