Denel Aeronautics is busy preparing to send a first batch of Cheetah fighter jets to the United States and will in the next couple of weeks have the aircraft flying before they head to Florida to join Draken International.
Twelve ex-South African Air Force (SAAF) Cheetahs (nine single seat Cheetah C and three dual seat D models) were late last year sold to US-based Draken International, which will use them for adversary training for the US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps.
Draken International earlier this month said batch one of the aircraft will fly in the next couple of weeks for return to service qualifications in South Africa. They will then be shipped to Lakeland, Florida. Denel Aeronautics is currently reassembling the aircraft and getting them flightworthy.
The Cheetahs will become the first South African aircraft in the Draken fleet. They will join A-4 Skyhawks equipped with APC-66b radar and L-159 Honey Badgers with GRIFO-L-radars. Draken sees supplementing its fleet with the Cheetahs as offering customers “a capable, yet cost-effective platform”.
Draken sees the Cheetah as complementary to its recent acquisition of 22 modernised radar-equipped Spanish Mirages F1Ms.
Denel sold 12 retired Cheetahs to the Ecuadorian Air Force six years ago.