Saturday, October 24, 2020

BDF commander sheds light into the fighter jet controversy

Botswana Defence Force’s decision to buy F-5 Fighter jets in the previous years was a blunder as the army failed to carefully take into consideration the total costs of ownership, especially operating costs of the F-5 which are said to be unsustainable.

The army is now considering buying Gripens to replace the F-5s.

This was said by the BDF commander Major General Gaolathe Galebotswe when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday.   

Galebotswe could not hide that the F-5 operating costs per hour pinch directly into BDF pockets. 

“F-5s have become unsustainable for Botswana Defence force. We needed something that is cost effective but still capable in carrying out our mandate on air,” he told PAC.

He said the BDF went to the market in search of new model of fighter jets to replace the F-5s.

“So what did we do? We went to the market and we have considered any other fighter jets like the American F-60 and many others. Gripens were part of that. There is a dialogue currently ongoing to consider Gripens in replacement of F-5s because Gripens have the lowest operating cost,” said Galebotswe.

Galebotswe said the dialogue is between governments.

He said there are no middlemen in the procurement of the Gripens. Culturally the BDF procurements were done through middlemen.

Galebotswe was never a fan of these middlemen and his effort to remove middlemen in procuring BDF equipment somehow might have cost him a job.

His questioning on the involvement of middlemen in the process of procuring BDF equipments was more likely an insult to his superiors.

F-5 has since been described as an aged Cold War relic that many nations including the Greeks, Taiwanese, Norwegians, Saudis, Koreans, Swiss, Dutch, Canadians, Pakistanis, Singaporeans, Spanish, Filipinos and even our neighbours have either fully disposed of or are in the process of doing so. 

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