The SA Air Force (SAAF) will not in the near future add the services of a leased VVIP aircraft to its inventory.
Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford said this week the tender to lease an inter-continental aircraft for the air force (tender number ETEL/2016/130) had been cancelled “after a rigorous and highly intensive evaluation process”.
The lease tender was issued in August and followed an earlier decision by the state’s defence and security acquisition agency not to buy another VVIP aircraft. That tender was issued last November and, although it was not made public, the offers received were deemed insufficient to the specifications set and cancelled to be replaced by a tender to lease.
In a statement, Wakeford said a tender to lease was issued on August 17 with “bidders invited to submit bids in response to a specific set of criteria ranging from aircraft requirements and technical specifications among others”.
“Potential bidders were notified to respond to individual items in the lease and indicate compliance to the specifications outlined. Bidders were also advised to add the necessary motivations as to why the offer complies with the criteria listed. Any non-compliance would lead to the offer being eliminated from further evaluation.”
Although initially excited at the responses received to the tender, Wakeford indicated none of the bids achieved “a full score satisfactorily in the overall evaluation, prompting the cancellation of the tender”.
“The decision to cancel was not an easy one to take considering we had to cancel the previous tender due to no successful bid,” he said adding it was “back to the drawing board” for Armscor.
“We will maintain unwavering insistence on total compliance in every respect of the requirements. The Department of Defence and Military Veterans expects no less from us”.
Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has on a number of occasions pointed out another VVIP aircraft is a necessity for the SAAF to be able to meet its tasking of providing VIP transport for the President, Cabinet Ministers and other high-level government officials. She has also stressed the new acquisition should not be identified solely with current President Jacob Zuma saying the aircraft is for the use of the president and that Zuma “will not always be president”.
Her original expectation was for a new aircraft to be delivered to AFB Waterkloof by March 31 this year.
Questions have been raised around the airworthiness and condition of the current Presidential aircraft, the Boeing 737 Inkwazi. An air force appointed board of enquiry is investigating but no details have yet been made public.
Zuma’s apparent averment to flying in Inkwazi has seen aircraft almost constantly chartered for his use in recent months. These have included a Boeing 727 and a Global Express which military analyst Darren Olivier maintains will have cost at least R2 million a month. This is because aircraft are chartered for 30 hours a months at anywhere between R60 000 and R80 000 an hour.