Indications are Armscor has solved its website security problems and the tender bulletin is again operational, but not necessarily 100% correct.
One entry, posted on August 18, reads in the requirement field “Lease of an inter-continental aircraft for the SA Army” and is headed “Contract details for acquisition/telecom systems ETEL/2016/130”. This is the same reference as that given for the aircraft the land-based arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is apparently planning to lease.
“It’s a mistake and it will be corrected,” was the response of Armscor General Manager: Marketing And Business Development, Lulu Mzili, when contacted by defenceWeb today.
“It should read ‘SA Air Force (SAAF)’ and most definitely not SA Army,” she said.
With no further information available, indications are this is yet another attempt at obtaining a VIP aircraft for President Jacob Zuma and other VVIPs in Cabinet.
Acquisition of a VVIP aircraft was the initial aim of an Armscor RfI released last November. When none of the submissions was considered suitable Armscor pursued the lease option for what was supposed to be an urgent asset acquisition, whether by purchase or lease.
Now it appears government’s defence and security acquisition agency has again been tasked by the SAAF to try and find an aircraft suitable for transporting the President and his entourage.
The Boeing 737 bizjet Inkwazi, acquired for VVIP transport with the country’s first citizen specifically in mind, and its availability, is current the subject of an investigation by a SAAF board of enquiry. defenceWeb has been reliably told the aircraft, which is on 21 Squadron’s inventory, has a reliability record of 98%. Other published sources put Inkwazi’s availability at 100% adding value to the theory that the President “doesn’t like to fly in it”.
This has seen various aircraft chartered, including Fortune Air’s so-called Super 27 (Boeing 727) and most recently, a Gulfstream G550 registered to Angolan company BestFly, used to move Zuma, Cabinet Ministers and advisors around South Africa, southern Africa and abroad.
He has, in recent weeks, been in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi (when the Super 27 apparently went technical), Mbabane in Swaziland and now China for the G20 summit.
Calculations done by aviation industry insiders point to around R2 million a month being spent on VVIP and VIP aircraft charters with hourly costs ranging from R60 000 to R80 000 whether the aircraft is flying or on the ground.