Zambia's defence minister has released a statement denying a report that his government is close to signing a second USD400 million deal with Israeli companies.
Africa Confidential reported on 12 October that the new deal will be funded by Israel's Bank Hapoalim and is believed to include a new Gulfstream G650 presidential jet. The USD400 million deal previously signed with Elbit Systems covered an unspecified number of F-5 jet fighters, 18 Skylark unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ground vehicles, and upgrades for Mi-17 helicopters. The deals also include centres for training and command, control, and communications, as well as maintenance, the newsletter said.
Separately, Zambia ordered USD50 million in weapons and ammunition from Israel Weapons Industries, while Israeli company Ashtrom has received a USD200 million contract to upgrade the Maina Soko military hospital in Lusaka and a USD400 million contract to build barracks in Kawambwa district, the Africa Confidential newsletter claimed.
It added that Zambia was also buying a VIP version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner for use by the president.
Minister of Defence Stardy Mwale released a statement two days later stressing "that there is no USD400 million being spent on any single aircraft or military equipment as falsely and maliciously alleged by the Africa Confidential and other media platforms".
He stated that the Zambian Air Force embarked on a programme to replace its ageing fleet of fighter and transport aircraft, as well as other air defence equipment, in 2012 and that this is still ongoing due to the time it takes to make appropriate selections, complete procedures, and secure funding.
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