Colombia to retire Kfir fighters by 2022

Colombia retire Kfir 2022
Colombian Air Force Kfir at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. In 2018, Colombian Kfir fighters visited various US airbases on the occasion of their participation in the Red Flag exercise.

The Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Colombian Air Force) will withdraw the Kfir fleet by 2022, according to local media reports in recent days. The service seems to have decided to hasten the decommissioning of the jets due to the high maintenance and operating costs, as well as the difficulty of finding spare parts.

Kfir fighters have been the backbone of the Colombian Air Force since they were introduced in 2011. They were acquired second hand by the Israeli Air Force and have been in service for over 30 years (1989). Colombia bought 24 Kfirs, two of which were lost in accidents.

This decision is surprising, however, as the fighters were updated a few years ago. The Colombian Air Force completed the modernization process of its Kfirs in 2017, which received more advanced flight systems that allow the use of weapons of greater range and precision. The process, carried out by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), also involved the replacement of the aircraft's engines.

For some years Colombia has been considering equipping its air force with 15 more advanced fighters. Possible options include buying second-hand Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Denmark or new Saab Gripen E/F fighters from Sweden (which could be manufactured in Brazil, according to pevious statements by Saab CEO Micael Johansson).

Written by Darren Bondi
Image: USAF/Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz

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