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General News of Thursday, 7 October 2010

Source: myjoyonline

New presidential jet ready to fly

President Mills and his entourage can now fly the new presidential jet, the Falcon 900 for both national and international duties. The new jet was commissioned in Accra this morning by Vice-President, John Dramani Mahama.

He said the aircraft will improve the capacity of the Ghana Airforce to transport government officials in safety and dignity. Touching on the necessity for the jet, the Vice-President said, “the existing executive jet, the Fokker 28, was acquired some 35 years ago and has served us faithfully and reliably over the years. Unfortunately it is now no longer safe for long haul flights. The falcon will therefore, from today, become the prime equipment that the Air Force utilizes to transport the president and other senior state officials on national and international assignments.”

He said the Fokker 28 will remain a back-up aircraft for short distance travels. Mr Mahama emphasized the need for the new jet to be well maintained to prolong its lifespan. The Vice-President said the government was in the process of acquiring another jet from Brazil to augment the fleet of the military. “Next year, we hope to take delivery of an Enbraya 190 jet financed by the government of Brazil to improve the strategic lift capacity of the Air Force to move troops to its operational theatre.”

That, he said, will be followed by “the acquisition of …two 50-seater troop transport planes, two light trains and surveillance aircraft and our helicopters.” Joy FM’s Seth Kwame Boateng who was one of a few journalists that toured the plane, said it was a rare privilege to be on the plane.

He said the aircraft is truly exquisite. A statement issued by the Ghana Armed Forces said “The Falcon 900Ex Easy is [a] sleek and executive equipment with a maximum take-off weight of 21,900kg, maximum speed of 370 Nauts and operating altitude of 51,000ft.”

Acquiring the jet by the Kufuor administration attracted intractable debate, with the then opposition NDC describing the decision as insensitive, particularly so when President Kufuor was buying two aircraft, with the argument that the army needed them. They argued the money to be spent on the aircraft could have been spent on more critical areas of the economy.