Minster of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has said there is the need for government to acquire a new multifunctional Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) aircraft, to add to its inventory.
According to the minister, a new aircraft would serve as a requisite command and control asset to connect national security to diplomacy.
In an answer to an urgent question asked by North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, as to whether the presidential jet, Dassault Falcon-9G-EXE, was in good condition, in Parliament, Mr Nitiwul answered in the affirmative.
The minister, who is also MP for Bimbilla, said with only 11 passengers, the Falcon-9G-EXE’s usage was limited, considering the large government delegation on international assignments, hence the need for the BBJ.
“The strategic value of this jet is not less a national asset, indeed, it compares equally to acquiring ground attack jet fighters and armed helicopters.
“The value of a BBJ or Airbus Jet is borne out of deep thinking and understanding of the Ghana Air Force’s capability to link diplomacy, international security with national vital interest,” Mr Nitiwul told the House.
Acquiring the BBJ, Mr Nitiwul explained would save the state cost overtime because the President would have to travel with his “office;” that is staffers who must be around him in order for the President to be able to do his work well.
The minister said, anytime the President used the Falcon for his travels, his staffers traveled by commercial flight with increased cost as well as often attendant delays in transit because of the lack of direct flights to the ultimate destinations.
Where the President has to travel to two or three destinations on a trip, two or three separate staff units have to be deployed to each of the countries, Mr Nitiwul said.
“For example, Ghana has spent over US$50 million over the past 10 years to airlift soldiers on peacekeeping missions alone. If the Air Force has a strategic lift, this amount would have been saved to the treasury.
“If I were to add this list, for example footballers, domestic travels, government officials, parliamentary travels, chiefs and other opinion leaders that the Air Force is normally tasked to airlift, this figure of US$50 million will easily double,” he said.
Mr Nitiwul said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo remained committed to protecting the public purse and would continue to do so.
The minister said the President’s security was “a national security imperative and same would highly be considered in every President’s trips.”
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI
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