SAAF Boeing 707 spares up for sale

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Armscor’s Defence Disposal Solutions (DDS) is inviting offers for “spares” for decommissioned Boeing 707s once used as electronic warfare and aerial refuelling platforms by the SA Air Force (SAAF).

The four-engined aircraft were acquired in March 1982 with the last operational flight in July 2007 to Bujumbura, Kinshasa and Kindu with Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop and the SAAF Museum the final stop for Boeing 141, the last of three in November the same year.

Doubts about the condition of remaining spares, in the light of no flights for over 15 years, would be concerning to potential buyers, military aviation analyst and publisher of the Unofficial SAAF Website, Dean Wingrin, told defenceWeb.

He emphasised he had no knowledge of what spares and in which quantities the SAAF holds adding at least some items may be under time certification limits.

“These must surely have expired by now. Many, if not most, items would have to be inspected and re-certified prior to use. Other items may contain rubber seals and other perishable components and these may need to be replaced. Items containing fluids also need to be carefully inspected prior to use to ensure it [the fluid] was correctly inhibited,” he said.

Another factor to be taken into account is the conditions under which spares earmarked for sale were – and are – stored.

“Ideally, spare parts should be stored in a dust free, low humidity and well-ventilated warehouse with no direct sunlight, harsh lighting or damp. Rodents and birds are – of course – a no-no. Given storage conditions provided for operational and standby equipment in the SANDF (SA National Defence Force), it is doubtful these spares would have been prioritised for correct storage conditions,” Wingrin said.

Another potential problem is soldering in electronic components. “Over time it probably has become brittle resulting in equipment not working or causing an error.”

The final problem area he sees is all the necessary supporting paperwork.

“Without it replacement parts cannot be used on a flying aircraft,” he said adding “given the extended time sitting on shelves, I’d say ‘buyer beware’”.

The DDS tender number is E/2022/200 with a closing date of 21 April.