Gripens 12 to 15 arrive


The South African Air Force (SAAF) this morning received four more SAAB Gripen C advanced light fighter aircraft, taking the number of single-seat fighters to six, in addition to nine two-seaters already delivered. It total, the SAAF has now received 15 of the 26 fighters ordered as part the R19.908 billion Project Ukhozi (eagle).

Arriving on board the cargo vessel Achtergracht (registered in Amsterdam) yesterday, the four aircraft were offloaded in Table Bay Harbour this morning. They had been loaded onboard the vessel at the port of Norrköping in Sweden.

The single seat aircraft, serials 3912 to 3915, were then towed the 8km from the harbour to AFB Ysterplaat in two convoys of two aircraft each. They will be made ready for flight at the air force base prior to departure.

With all nine dual-seat Gripen D aircraft already delivered, these four aircraft will join the first two Gripen Cs that arrived on February 11 this year. The Gripen will play a key part in the air force’s plans to safeguard the airspace above the stadiums during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The original order was for nine Gripen D dual-seat and 19 Gripen C single-seat aircraft. However, the order was revised in 2005 to nine dual-seat and seventeen single-seat aircraft. The first instrumented Gripen D was delivered in April 2008 and is based at the SAAF’s Test flight and Development Centre near Bredasdorp in the southern Cape. The balance of the aircraft is assigned to 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado in the Limpopo province.

Pic: SAAF Gripens 10 and 11 arriving in Cape Town in February.