Saab awarded Gripens support contract in South Africa


SAAB says it has been awarded a 45 million Swedish crowns (roughly R45.1 million) contract to deliver a multi emitter environment simulator for South Africa’s growing fleet of Gripen C and D advanced fighter aircraft.

It has also been awarded an interim support and services contract worth a further 45 million Swedish crowns (about R45.1 million) to provide “on demand” services for the 17 months period from the November 1, 2010 to the end of March 2012, SAAB says in a statement. “On demand” services are typically maintenance repair and overhaul, engineering support services in Sweden or on-base, at Air Force Base Makhado in South Africa.

SAAB has been further contracted to develop and test an interface between the Gripen mission support system and the SAAF current intelligence system.

The South African Air Force through the Armscor arms agency has already been awarding SAAB support and services contracts related to the Gripen. A look at the Armscor Bulletin System shows expenditure on the type of R97.5 million between November 2009 and last month. The latest contracts, awarded to Volvo Aero Corporation last month, 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.