South Korea’s Korea Space Industries (KAI) is reportedly offering indigenously-built FA-50, a light attack variant of the T-50 supersonic trainer, to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) for “affordable acquisition and low-operating cost” as compared to its European competitor.
As per secret document obtained by Sunday Standard daily titled “FA-50 for the Botswana Defence Force: The right choice for the future” dated May 2017 suggests KAI is wooing the BDF to give preference to FA-50 over other fighter jets manufactures especially Swedish Gripen fighter manufacturer Saab.
Apart from highlighting cost-effectiveness in the document, KAI mentioned other benefits like “proven weapon capability, efficient training pipeline and extensive training for indigenous operation...dedicates to Botswana Aerospace (Training Human Resource)”.
KAI also promises to provide BDF with “training Media analysis including visit to Republic of Korea Air Force Base and concept study for BDF.” The documents also inform BDF management that “FA-50 training is the right way for the Fighter pilot training” and that “FA-50 can perform both training and combat mission.” “FA-50 and enhanced will be the best solution to build up fleet with economic way,” the documents say.
According to the report, Botswana’s senior government officials – former Justice Defence and Security Minister Ramadeluka Seretse, his predecessor Shaw Kgathi and members of the BDF high command have had a string of to and fro meetings with the South Korean officials since 2013.
The document obtained KAI goes on explain the cost difference between the fighter jets. Comparing their FA-50 T-50 to Swedish Gripen fighter jets, the South Koreans say the two fighter jets have same size, same engine similar performance but “competitor’s (Gripen) life cycle cost is estimated as three times to FA-50”, the report says.
Describing itself as a “trustworthy partner for the Botswana Defence Force,” KAI promises to provide BDF with instructional systems development (ISD) training not only for FA-50 but also for PC-7 and T-50 fighter jets.
Other countries like Brazil are also in the running for Botswana Defence Force (BDF) P 2 billion budget allocation.