SAAF & Armscor not yet committed to buying Zuma a jet

The South African Air Force & Armscor says there’s only been a request for information on possible options.

SAAF senior officials at a media briefing giving details surrounding the proposed new VVIP jet for President Jacob Zuma on 10 November 2015, in Pretoria. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

PRETORIA - The South African Air Force and Armscor has assured the public that there is no commitment to buy a new presidential jet, but there has been a request for information on possible options.

The media was briefed at the Waterkloof Air Force base on reports that an acquisition process had started after weekend reports that plans were in place to buy President Jacob Zuma a new jet.

The president's office yesterday said the public must be briefed on this matter as much as possible.

It's estimated that a new aircraft could cost as much as R4 billion.

Air Force Chief Lieutenant-General Fabian Msimang says the air force is required to be mission ready to provide VVIP transport.

But he says over the past few years this capability has been constrained.

"The quest for information is aimed at obtaining that which will assist Armscor in identifying possible options to satisfy the Air Forces' requirements to expand their current intercontinental VVIP transport capabilities."

Armscor Chief Executive Kevin Wakeford stressed that this process is simply a request for information.

"I don't know where the R4 billion comes from, because quite frankly, we can't afford that. We are looking at a whole variety of options, but we are seeking information to establish the facts. And we are not going to do anything irresponsible, that I can guarantee you."

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The City Press newspaper reported that specifications for the aircraft include a private bedroom suite, a bathroom and a conference room for eight people on board.

The president's current jet, Inkwazi, is unable to carry more than 15 people and with the new purchase at least 30 passengers will be able to travel with the president.

Defence union Sandu has criticised the proposed purchase, saying money would be better spent on salaries and equipment for troops.

Images by Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.