Gripen support grows


Three contracts awarded this month for support and services involving the South African Air Force’s growing fleet of Saab Gripen C and D advanced light fighter aircraft takes expediture on the type to R97.5 million over the last 12 months.

The latest contracts, awarded to Volvo Aero Corporation last week, was for on demand support services worth R10 014 851.94. Gripen International KB benefitted by R43 717 140 for interim product support services, while SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd was awarded R273 162 to develop and test an interface between the Gripen mission support system and the SAAF current intelligence system.

South Africa ordered 28 Saab 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. In 2008 Treasury put the cost of the Gripen acquisition, Project Ukhozi, at R19.908 billion. As the Gripen programme is still in project phase it is not immediately clear if the R97 522 534.30 in work awarded since November last year is part of the 2008 Treasury figure or additional to it.

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.

Air Force director combat systems Brigadier General John Bayne, praised the availability of the SAAF’s new fighter fleet during the tournament at a Gripen briefing at Africa Aerospace & Defence 2010 exhibition. The Gripen were allocated 276 flying hours and the Hawks 279. Bayne says the five two-seat Gripen D were 98% reliable and the six single-seat Gripen C 89%. The Hawk was 98% reliable. At any given time 8.95 of the 11 Gripen were available and 11.6 of the Hawk. Maintainability was 89% for Gripen and 92% for Hawk. Bayne observed that the figures for Gripen would have been higher had it been an operation system.

The SAAF last month qualified its first three locally-trained Gripen pilots, adding to the six trained in Sweden and taking the pool to nine. Three more are expected to graduate next year. Despite briefing reporters on these numbers at the Gripen facility at 2 Squadron, at Air Force Base Makhado in Limpopo at the time, SAAF director air capability planning Brigadier General Wiseman Mbambo two weeks ago told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans he could not tell them the current number of qualified Gripen combat pilots as this would compromise national security. Mbambo did concede that inadequate funding was threatening to ground the fighter as the SAAF lacked the funds “to generate the required number of flying hours and re-provision the systems adequately”.

From the Armsor Bulletin System:
On demand support services for the South African Air Force’s Gripen fighter aircraft engines – extension of ELGS/2008/408

LGS/S2010/0120 25 Nov 2010 R10 014 851,94 Volvo Aero Corporation

Interim product support services for the SA Air Force’s Gripen aircraft

ELGS/2009/566 18 Nov 2010 R43 717 140,00 Gripen International KB

Development and testing of interface between Gripen mission support system and SAAF current intelligence system

EBEB/2010/301 18 Nov 2010 R273 162,00 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Licence agreement for the Gripen aircraft ejection seat power cartridges

EDWU/2009/79 30 Sep 2010 R2 507 898,99 Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd

On demand support services for the SA Air Force Gripen aircraft – extension of ELGS/2008/333

LGS/S2010/4492 22 Sep 2010 R6 175 342,54 Gripen International KB

LGS/S2010/4435 15 Jul 2010 R3 069 337,00 Gripen International KB

LGS/S2010/4412 17 Jun 2010 R6 378 793,80 Gripen International KB

LGS/S2009/4328 22 Apr 2010 R4 501 582,53 Gripen International KB

LGS/S2009/2392 11 Feb 2010 R734 111,09 Gripen International KB

Ejection seat cartridges for Gripen dual aircraft – extension of EDWU/2009/230

DWU/S2010/0583 2 Sep 2010 R2 102 823,19 Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd

On demand support services for the South African Air Force’s Gripen fighter aircraft

ELGS/2008/333 10 Dec 2009 R9 000 008,80 Gripen International KB

On demand support services for the South African Air Force’s Gripen fighter aircraft engines

ELGS/2008/408 10 Dec 2009 R9 002 182,48 Volvo Aero Corporation

Procurement of dust covers for the SAAF’s Gripen fighter aircraft

ELGS/2009/283 19 Nov 2009 R45 299,94 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd