A R4 billion jet for President Jacob Zuma is not affordable, according to the SA National Defence Force’s procurement agency Armscor and the SA Air Force (SAAF).
And if South Africa does acquire a new, luxury, state-of-the-art VIP intercontinental jet, it will most likely come from an international supplier as there are no local suppliers that can meet the requirements listed in a request for information document issued by Armscor.
An aircraft with a private bedroom, two conference rooms (one VIP and one IP), that is able to seat 30 people and fly a distance of more than 7 200 Nm – from Johannesburg to New York – without refuelling, are just some the requirements. But both the SAAF and Armscor on Tuesday slammed weekend media reports putting the cost at R4 billion.
Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford said: “I don’t know where the R4 billion comes from because quite frankly we cannot afford it. We are looking at a whole variety of options. I can guarantee you any decision taken will be a responsible one.”
Financing options also included purchase, lease-to-buy or lease. Wakeford said a request for information was to test the market and explore options. SAAF chief Zimpande Msimang said the current fleet of VIP aircraft couldn’t sustain all the transport requests from government, which have increased as the country’s presence has grown internationally.
As Zuma and other executives’ official transporters, they had to provide mission-ready, intercontinental air transport capability. The current presidential jet Inkwazi can only carry 15 passengers.