The South African Air Force has awarded the Defence, Peace, Safety and Security unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research a R918 000 contract for specialist engineering support service to identify and correct “problems with data communication between Gripen aircraft.”
The nature of the problem underlying the R918 478.30 order was not identified but could relate to the Link ZA datalink fitted to the fourth-generation fighter aircraft. Defence arms agency Armscor issued the CSIR a Request for Quotation on February 3 this year, with a closing date of February 16 for a “consultation service for the identification and correction of problems with data communication between Gripen aircraft”.
South Africa ordered 28 Gripen C & D advanced light fighter aircraft in 1999 as part of a “strategic defence package”. The order was later trimmed to 26. The Gripen were acquired as a package with 24 BAE Systems Hawk Mk120 lead-in fighter trainers.
Although still not an operational system,the SAAF’s growing fleet of SAAB Gripen fighters conducted about half the 51 aircraft intercepts conducted during the June/July soccer World Cup. The SAAF deployed 11 of the available 15 Gripen during the month-long tournament as well as 12 of 24 BAE Systems Hawk lead-in fighter trainers.