The South African Air Force has now received most of the assets acquired in the 1999 Strategic Defence Package (SDP) and is well on the way to integrating them fully within the service. That’s the word from the Chief of the Air Force.
The SAAF gained 30 AgustaWestland A109LUH light utility helicopters, 26 Saab JAS39C/D Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft, 24 BAE Systems Mk120 Hawk lead-in fighter aircraft and four AgustaWestland SuperLynx300 maritime helicopters directly and indirectly from the SDP.
All four Lynx and all 24 Hawks have been delivered. Twenty-eight of the A109s have been received and the first five Gripen D two-seaters have been delivered.
“The A109 is now fully integrated,” Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano said ahead of an air capability demonstration at the Roodewal bombing range yesterday. “It is still not deployed to Port Elizabeth, we are still using the [Eurocopter] BK117 there because of the huge utility value they have in the Eastern Cape.
The Lynx is also fully integrated although some training remains to be done aboard the Navy`s ships [the Valour-class frigates].
“The Hawk is now really starting to perform. It participated two weeks ago in Exercise Shield, the exercise to practice for World Cup in 2010,” Gagiano said.
“We are also busy with the Gripens. The initial crews and instructors are busy with their conversion course and we are setting ourselves the target of also having them delivering air-ground ordnance here with the next demonstration in the second half of the year.”