South Africa has taken delivery of its latest two Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft, which form part of the SA Air Force’s modernisation and transformation programme.
The aircraft, both of which are dual-seat operational variants, arrived in Cape Town on Friday afternoon.
They are the sixth and seventh Gripens of South Africa`s 1999 combined order for 26 Gripens – of which nine are dual-seat aircraft – and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers (which have all been delivered).
SA paid R19.908 billion for the Gripen and R7.2 billion for the Hawk .
Deliveries of 17 single-seat fighters will commence when all of the dual-seat aircraft have been taken into SA Air Force service later this year and will continue, according to schedule, until 2012.
The SA Air Force Gripen fleet is operated by 2 Squadron, which is stationed at AFB Makhado in South Africa`s northern Limpopo province.
Pilot and technical support training by Saab, the Gripen`s Swedish manufacturer, has been underway at the base since early 2008. The first group of pilots comprises six SAAF Gripen pilot instructors.
They will instruct South Africa`s new generation of fast jet pilots graduating from 85 Combat Flying School where they are prepared for Gripen by training on the new Hawk trainers.
Apart from the comprehensive conversion to type training for pilot and maintenance technician instructors, Saab has also provided and delivered mission simulators, a computer-based training system, and an extensive logistics support package consisting of ground support equipment, spare parts and other enabling products. These are located at AFB Makhado and at other SAAF supporting bases.