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Consultations ongoing to purchase new aircraft for GAF - Minister of Defence tells Parliament

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Mr Dominic Nitiwul
Mr Dominic Nitiwul

The Ministry of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, has told Parliament that consultations are ongoing with various stakeholders on the purchase of a new executive aircraft for the Ghana Air Force (GAF) to enable it efficiently defend the country and carry out the duties expected of it.

He said such consultations, which was taking place among the government, Parliament, religious bodies, trade unions and civils society organisations, were part of processes of acquiring new wide body aircraft for the GAF to carry out government business.

“The consultation process has been triggered by the military and such consultations will continue until such a time that the Minister of Defence is satisfied that the people of Ghana, whether through Parliament, the Executive, as well as the people themselves, have been able to convince themselves that buying a ship to defend themselves and buying an aircraft to be able to do government business is something that we can afford and indeed we need,” he said.

Compromised safety

Addressing a question on the floor of Parliament yesterday, Mr Nitiwul said the indication he had received from all the consultations was that it was paramount, in the absence of Ghana Airways, to have an aircraft to aid government business.

“Mr Speaker, the log book of CASA 295, which is a pure military aircraft, is so full that it is not safe for us to continue to rely on the military to be using a pure military aircraft to be ferrying government officials including Members of Parliament,” he said.

Question

The minister disclosed this when he answered a question by the National Democratic Congress (MP) for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

The MP asked the minister the nature of the steps the ministry had initiated to purchase a new presidential jet as announced by Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin on September 27, 2021 and what was the policy justification for the purchase of a new presidential jet.

CASA 295 not suitable

Answering, Mr Nitiwul said the GAF had over the past one year written to the Minister of Defence to procure for the use of government business the main aircraft for the communication squadron of the GAF.

He said the policy and strategy of the GAF had been to maintain a minimum of two fixed wing aircraft, which consisted of a main (wide body aircraft) and supporting aircraft that were required to undertake thorough and effective government business.

Hitherto, he said the GAF operated the Fokker 28 Executive Jet as the main aircraft and the Fokker 27 as the supporting aircraft until in the year 2010 when both aircraft were decommissioned.

According to him, currently, the GAF had the supporting aircraft which was the Falcon 900 Executive Jet but lacked the main wide body aircraft which it needed for all government business.

“Mr Speaker, in the absence of the main wide body aircraft, the Ghana Air Force has been temporarily using the CASA 295 to fill in for the shortfalls and gaps created by non-availability of the specific aircraft designed for this task.

“It must be noted, however, that the CASA 295 is not suitable for government business in view of its design and features, making it a pure military aircraft.

“Until the government acquires a wide body aircraft for the GAF, the task assigned to the GAF will continue to face major challenges and difficulties because of the limitations I have enumerated,” he said.

Three-year delivery

He informed the House that the GAF did not determine the cost of an aircraft but once the government had made the decision to purchase an aircraft and selected a vendor, the vendor would make known the cost of the such aircraft.

“When I contacted both Boeing and Airbus, they both told me that it will take about three years for them to be able deliver a new aircraft to Ghana.

“What it simply means is that if I were to make a decision today and the government were to have the money for the Ministry of Defence to purchase the aircraft, the least time for an aircraft to arrive will be first quarter of 2025. This current President will not sit in the aircraft as President; he may sit as an ex-President,” he said.

Sales and purchase agreement

Mr Nitiwul, meanwhile, laid a performance sales and purchase agreement for an amount of €111,393,400 for the supply of six L-39 Next Generation Aircrafts.

The agreement also includes the provision of support in terms of products, services and ground based training systems associated with the aircraft operations for the Ghana Armed Forces.