The South American country of Ecuador is negotiating with South Africa to buy 12 Denel Cheetah C single-sea fighters, retired from South African Air Force (SAAF) service. The Engineering News reported this weekend the negotiations had been confirmed by Ecuadorian Defence Minister Javier Ponce.
Ecuador has, in principle, decided to acquire the Cheetahs, but an actual purchase depends on the outcome of the financial negotiations, which the Engineering News added will only start in December.
Ecuador has budgeted an initial $35-million for this programme, but expects the total costs to be higher.
According to an Ecuadorian press report, representatives of Denel offered Cheetahs to Ecuador on August 26, while visiting the Ecuadorean Air Force’s Cotopaxi Air Base.
Ecuador is seeking to modernise its fighter force at minimum cost, and reportedly South Africa is offering the Cheetahs at lower prices than Chile and Spain are seeking for fighters that are now surplus to their requirements.
“Indeed, the prices sought by Chile and Spain exceed the fighter acquisition budget available to the Ecuadorian Air Force,” the Engineering News said.
“Further, the Cheetahs have quite modern avionics systems, apparently equivalent to those of the modernised Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir CE fighters already operated by Ecuador. The Cheetahs would be operated alongside the Kfirs.”
The South African fighters, highly modernised Dassault Mirage IIICs originally bought from France, would most likely replace Ecuador’s current force of Dassault F1 fighters (a type once also operated by South Africa and replaced in SAAF service by the Cheetah), and perhaps its Sepecat Jaguar fighter-bombers.
It is not known if Ecuador will also see to acquire South African weapons to go with the Cheetah fighters.