A dozen SAAF Gripens in long-term storage
Written by defenceWeb, Wednesday, 13 March 2013
This emerged yesterday in reply to a parliamentary question posed by the opposition Democratic Alliance party’s Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans David Maynier.
“The South African Air Force (SAAF) has 12 Gripen Fighter Aircraft placed in long-term storage. These aircraft are placed in a storage as a planned activity in line with their utilization and budget expenditure patterns/flow of SAAF,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“The Gripen fighter jets are supposed to provide the air combat capability for the South African Air Force (SAAF). However, the Gripen fighter jets are effectively grounded because the operating budget has been stripped to the bone and the SAAF cannot afford to operate the ‘Gripen system’,” Maynier said.
Already in 2010 there was great concern that a lack of money would ground the Gripen. Then-defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned that the Gripens could be mothballed if the military failed to get hold of extra funding. The Department of Defence annual report released in 2010 warned that “Combined with the recent funding cuts for the medium-term expenditure framework period, the air force will only be able to sustain the Hawk system.
“Without adequate funding levels being provided, the air force will not be able to meet its mandate in terms of defence or its support of government initiatives in the medium and longer term. The unwanted reality is portions of aircraft fleets may have to be placed in long-term storage, and certain capabilities, units or bases may have to be closed down.”
The lack of money for the Gripens has also affected flying hours and pilot training. In April 2011 then-chief of the Air Force Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano said the Air Force was not going to fly the required number of hours due to a lack of funding and in its 2010/2011 report, the Department of Defence said that due to underfunding, the number of flight hours per Gripen aircrew member was reduced from 224 to 110 per year.
At present the SAAF can only muster six qualified Gripen pilots who only have 150 flying hours available across the whole Gripen squadron this year, according to Maynier. The annual target for fighter flying hours was 250 for the 2011/2012 period, according to the Department of Defence’s most recent Annual Report.
Chief of the Air Force Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang when asked about Gripen flying hours earlier this year, said that the Air Force had never failed to deliver what was asked of it.
Defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman noted the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) requires fighter pilots to log at least 20 flight hours per month (240 flight hours per year per fighter pilot) to remain qualified.
“One of the biggest scandals of the Arms Deal is that we bought military equipment we could not afford to operate. And there is no better illustration of the point than the Gripen fighter jets in long-term storage,” Maynier said. “It is imperative that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, reviews the allocation of the operating funding to the “Gripen system” in the SAAF.”
In 2007 it emerged that the Gripens cost R19.08 billion, up from the original R17.8 billion estimate for both 26 Gripens and 24 Hawks.
It is unlikely that the Gripen situation will improve anytime soon, as the defence budget for the 2013/14 financial year stands at R40.2 billion, just R1.8 billion more than the previous year’s.
South Africa bought 26 Gripens (17 single-seat Gripen Cs and nine two-seat Gripen Ds) as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (in 2005 reduced to 26), becoming the Gripen’s first export customer. Deliveries concluded in September last year. The Gripens replaced the Cheetah fleet, which was withdrawn four years early due to funding constraints.
- SAAF wins bid to train Omani pilots
- SAAF gains ten new pilots
- SAAF A109 LUHs grounded again?
- Feature: Operationally stretched SAAF flying fewer hours
- SAAF should consider selling Gripens and buying transports
- Saab finalizes $5.4 billion Brazil order for 36 fighter jets
- New leader for the Silver Falcons
- Lockheed Martin seeing C-130J demand from Africa
- Air Force air capability demo impresses
- Saab’s Impi effectively tracking blue forces
TH180 coming to HAI Heli-Expo
by Safomar Aviation, 28 January 2015
Enstrom will send the flying TH180 to the helicopter show in Orlando, USA, says Safomar Aviation.
South Tyrolean Tetra network for civil protection organisations to be expanded
by AIRBUS Defence & Space, 22 January 2015
The Tetra network in South Tyrol, Italy, will replace over 40 analogue communications systems currently used by the civil protection organisations.
Driving change, diversity in the maritime world
by Nautic Africa, 22 January 2015
The perception of the maritime industry as a male-dominated industry is set to change, says Nautic Africa.
Airbus Defence and Space to build Tetra radio system for Lebanese security forces
by AIRBUS Defence & Space, 21 January 2015
The company was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Interior of Lebanon for a Terrestrial Trunked Radio communication system.
Saab, Damen team up for Walrus future submarine replacement programme
by Saab, 20 January 2015
The companies will work together in pursuit of the potential Walrus-class submarine replacement programme for the Netherlands.
EUNAVFOR, CMF, NATO confirmed to speak at African Maritime Security Summit
by IQPC, 19 January 2015
The EU Naval Force's Operation, NATO's Ocean Shield and the Combined Maritime Forces' representatives will attend the summit next month.