The Colombian government and army are studying a range of solutions jointly offered by Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Turkey’s Aselsan to fulfil the country’s requirement for a new main battle tank (MBT), sources in Bogotá have told Jane’s .
The Israeli-Turkish offer includes a wide number of options – ranging from General Dynamics Land Systems M60 tanks rebuilt and upgraded to an IMI Sabra III standard and fitted with an Israeli-made 120 mm smoothbore gun to refurbished samples of the Merkava Mk 2 and Mk 3 MBT.
Aselsan offers fire control and communication systems for the MBTs and performs part of the refurbishment of the second-hand tanks at its workshops in Turkey.
Another offer of second-hand Leclerc MBTs – presented by France’s defence procurement agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement – DGA) and Nexter – is less attractive because of its higher price but has not been discarded yet. According to the sources, other offers comprising surplus Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Leopard 2A4 and General Dynamics M1 Abrams MBTs, were also turned down because of price. An attempt to buy some of the lighter Leopard 1Vs from Chile failed to reach fruition.
Colombia wants to upgrade its armed forces in order to keep pace with neighbouring Venezuela’s announced acquisition of around 90 T-72 tanks. The Colombian requirements include special considerations related to the soft savannah, semi-jungle ground and climate where the tanks are expected to operate.
The project, which aims to procure between 60 and 80 MBTs for the Colombian Army, has a budget amounting to USD250 million. A decision is expected to be made by the end of 2010 or early in 2011, with deliveries to start in 2012.
According to some local sources the Sabra III is the preferred option. An offset package will be requested with the eventual order.