The acquisition of a new presidential jet seems to have fallen off the radar but there is a new and, at this stage, small blip on the SA Air Force (SAAF) acquisition radar – a replacement for the Falcon 900B.
Armscor has confirmed it is “in the concept phase of the process and is busy with a project study based on user requirement received from the client (the SAAF)”.
Lulu Mzili, Armscor general manager: marketing and business development, added no Request for Information (RfI) had yet been issued because the acquisition was currently in the concept phase. This contradicts what the Democratic Alliance (DA) said in the National Assembly (NA) during last week’s Appropriations Bill debate. Shadow finance minister David Maynier told the house an amount of R1,3 billion had been earmarked for the acquisition of a “Ministerial jet”. He subsequently informed defenceWeb this was based on information given to the party’s shadow defence and military veterans minister, Kobus Marais, during a defence portfolio committee meeting.
Mzili said Armscor could not give any more information at present because the process was “in its initiation phase” but if it is the Falcon 900B that is going to be “pensioned off” the new acquisition will, at minimum, have to be able to carry 19 passengers a distance of around seven thousand kilometres without refuelling.
The Falcon 900B has been in service at 21 Squadron since 1991 and underwent an extensive, R70 million, refurbishment in 2009. It served as the presidential aircraft until the arrival of the Boeing 737-7ED (Inkwazi) in 2001.