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January 22, 2015

Colombian Air Force grounds IAI-built Kfir aircraft fleet

The Colombian Air Force (FAC) has reportedly grounded its entire fleet of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Kfir C-10 all-weather, multirole combat aircraft.

Kfir aircraft

The Colombian Air Force (FAC) has reportedly grounded its entire fleet of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Kfir C-10 all-weather, multirole combat aircraft.

The move is a precautionary measure against the risks of their operation after one aircraft crashed while performing approach manoeuvres near the Air Combat Command Base No. 1 in Colombia last month, as reported by Defensa.com.

A preliminary investigation has indicated that the aircraft suffered a ‘flameout,’ forcing its pilot to follow protocols for ejection in the wake of low altitude, low speed and minimal chance of re-igniting the engine under such conditions.

The investigation has also ruled out the bird air strike hazard (BASH) as well as ingestion of birds by the general electric J79-GE J1EQD turbojet engine.

Meanwhile, the FAC is apparently planning to ship the power plant to IAI’s Lahav division for inspection, due to the lack of clarity about the causes of the flameout.

According to the publication, the Colombian Ministry of National Defence (MND) is also planning to look out for a new company to provide the necessary maintenance of the aircraft, and also solve the ongoing problem caused by its engines.

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"The move (grounded airfleet) is a precautionary measure against the risks of the FAC’s operation after one aircraft crashed while performing approach manoeuvres."

The move is apparently driven by the dissatisfaction of the FAC high command and primarily the concerns of the pilots flying the aircraft, which have been maintained by the Israeli companies.

However, the MND is yet to comment on the report.

To date, the J79-GE J1EQD engines are believed to have caused four accidents involving three TC12 two-seaters, and one C10 single-seater aircraft, which claimed the life of one pilot.

IAI’s Lahav division has been performing maintenance and repair of the Colombian Kfir engines since their introduction into service.

The Colombian Air Force is expected to have 24 Kfir C-10 aircraft in its inventory.


Image: A Kfir C-10 multirole combat aircraft of the Colombian Air Force. Photo: courtesy of Neoreich.

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