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Armscor selling undocumented SAAF Cessna 185s

SAAF Cessna 185s for saleSix years after they were first offered for sale a tranche of unused – and undocumented – SA Air Force (SAAF) Cessna 185s are again up for sale, this time by Armscor via a tender.

The tender – E/2018/21 - is for the sale of Cessna aircraft and related equipment and the closing date for offers is June 29.

Armscor confirmed the six aircraft are not serviceable are will be sold as is (voetstoots).

In addition to the six aircraft, said by Armscor to be stored at the SAAF Museum at AFB Zwartkop, the tender also makes provision for the sale of three scrap airframes currently at the SAAF’s 10 Air Depot.

Tail numbers are 710, 711, 724,731, 747 and 749 while the scrap airframes carry 727, 751 and 753.

The aircraft were first offered for sale at the 2012 AAD (Africa Aerospace and Defence) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof along with a number of Pilatus PC-7 Mk 11 turboprop trainers.

Military aviation historian and regular defenceWeb contributor, Dean Wingrin, notes the SAAF acquired numerous Cessna 185 light observation and utility aircraft from 1965 onwards. These were progressively withdrawn until only 10 remained in service in 2006.

“An electrical fire in the system manager’s office at AFB Waterkloof in 2006 resulted in the destruction of all maintenance records. Unable to recompile the records, the SAAF withdrew all the remaining aircraft from service.


“Protracted delays ensued in deciding what to do with the aircraft, as unsuccessful attempts were made to rebuild the records. Ministerial approval also had to be sought to write off and dispose of the aircraft,” Wingrin said.

Ahead of AAD in 2012 Armscor confirmed all the necessary approvals to dispose of the 185s were received with Wingrin noting “the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) will only permit them to be registered in the restricted category. Complicating matters is the aircraft have undergone numerous modifications while in military service”.

Chosen over the Dornier Do27 to replace the Auster AOP for observation tasks, the first Cessna 185 Skywagons arrived in South Africa in 1962, going to 42 Squadron at that time an SA Army unit. In total, 45 aircraft were purchased, comprising 24 185A, 12 185D and 9 185E versions, the last of which arrived in 1968.

At least six ex-SAAF Cessna 185s were sold to civilian owners in 1997.