By Maxwell Nkansah
According to the Defence Minister, Mr Dominic Ntiwul has said that consultations are underway for the purchase of a new Presidential Je.
He said the Ghana Air Force had written to him (the Minister of Defence) to procure for the use of Government Business, the main aircraft for the Communication Squadron of the Ghana Air Force.
“Mr Speaker, consultations are ongoing with Government, Parliament, religious bodies and trade unions on the purchase of Ghana Air Force and Navy assets to enable the Ghana Armed Forces efficiently defend our nation as expected,” Mr Nitiwul stated on the floor of Parliament in his response to a question put to him by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu.
The MP wanted to know from the Minister of Defence, the steps the Ministry had initiated to purchase a new Presidential Jet as announced by Mr Eugne Arhin, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, on 27th September 2021, and what was the policy justification for the purchase of a new presidential jet.
Mr Nitiwul noted that the policy and strategy of the Ghana Air Force had been to maintain a minimum of two Fixed Wing Aircraft, consisting of a main (wide-body aircraft) and supporting aircraft, that were required to undertake thorough and effective Government business.
He said previously, the Ghana Airforce operated Fokker 28 Executive Jet as the main aircraft and Fokker 27 as the supporting aircraft until 2010 when both aircraft were decommissioned.
The Defence Minister said currently, the Ghana Air Force had the supporting aircraft, the Falcon 900 Executive Jet, but lacked the main wide-body aircraft for all Government Business.
“Mr Speaker, in the absence of the main 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,” Mr Nitiwul stated.
“It must be noted that the CASA 295 is not suitable for Government business in view of its design and features making it a pure military aircraft.”
He said until the Government acquired a wide-body aircraft for the Ghana Air Force, the task assigned to Ghana Air Force would continue to face major challenges and difficulties, because of the limitations enumerated above.
Concerning the cost of the aircraft, the Minister said the Ghana Air Force did not determine the cost of the aircraft and that cost was determined when the Government had made a decision to purchase the aircraft and selected the vendor, who would then bring the cost to the Government.
He noted that all that the Ghana Air Force had asked was that they need a wide-body aircraft to do Government business.
“When I contacted both Boeing and Airbus, they told me that it would take about three years for them to be able to deliver a new aircraft to Ghana. What it simply means is that if I were to make a decision today and the Ghana Government was to have money for the Ministry of Defense to purchase an aircraft, the least time for the aircraft to arrive would be the first quarter of 2025. This current President would not sit in the aircraft as President….”
He said because there was no Ghana Airways, it was paramount for Ghanaians to have an aircraft that would do Government business.
“Mr Speaker, the logbook 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 faring Government officials and Government officials, including Members of Parliament,” he said.
“In fact, one of the bodies that use the military aircraft is MPs. If you check the records, the Members of Parliament use the military aircraft more than any other single organization.”
He said the decision that was made in 2005 to buy an aircraft that could take a maximum of 11 people and then 15 people on short journeys was the one that had limited that aircraft to the use of only the President.
He said if Ghana were to have an aircraft that could take 50 people, whenever the Black Stars were going to play football in South Africa, they could use that aircraft, adding that countries like Senegal were using their executive aircraft to ferry their footballers around.