The South African Air Force says it fuel bill has tripled in the last five years, surging from R60 million in 2003 to an expected R180 million this year.
Air Force chief Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano says the increase is the result of the increase in the global oil price which peaked close to US$150 earlier this year before sliding back to below US$50 this month.
However, the weakening of the Rand against global currencies since the deepening of the world financial crisis last month has offset some of the advantage of the lower oil price.
This has also affected the SAAF`s spares and maintenance bills as most of this is paid for in dollars, Euros and pounds.
“The Air force is extremely expensive to run,” says Gagiano. “We are so grateful that this year for the first time we got some relief for funding in terms of the fuel price.”
He says he will be engaging “our main stakeholders” over the Air Force budget and the gap between funding and mandate.
“I`ll have to tell them ‘look, this is our mandate, it`s in the Constitution and Defence Act; we know what we need to do, but how do we address this gap, do we fund more or lower the expectation?`”