Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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No progress on Gripens for Botswana

A Saab Gripen.The government of Botswana says no deal has been signed yet for the acquisition of Gripen C/D fighter jets because it does not have the P15 billion ($1.7 billion) required to fund the purchase.

Talks on Botswana’s planned acquisition of between 8 and 12 JAS Gripen C and D variants from Sweden began in 2016 and looked close to a deal late last year when former Botswana President Lt. Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama visited Sweden.

The Gripens were meant to replace the Botswana Defence Force’s (BDF’s) ageing fleet of US-made F-5 fighter jets acquired over two decades ago.

However, Defence and Security minister Shaw Kgathi said no deal may be signed with Sweden and Botswana is already looking beyond the Gripen deal for better and more affordable aircraft options.

“Nothing has been finalised yet. In fact, nothing much has been done (with regards to the Gripen deal). We are still looking for better and affordable deals,” Kgathi told the Botswana Gazette.

The paper also quoted BDF sources as saying the military’s desire to acquire Gripens has been frustrated by budgetary constraints as the Ministry of Defence and Security does not have the money needed to proceed with the acquisition.

The sources concurred with minister Kgathi in that the BDF is still negotiating with several governments and aircraft manufacturers around the world in search of affordable aircraft options.

The aircraft acquisition is part of a force modernisation programme that also includes the replacement of old troop carriers, transporters, tanks, armoured vehicles, light weapons and aerial defence systems.