The South African Air Force (SAAF) has reportedly ordered four Thales Optronics electro-optical reconnaissance pods for its growing Saab JAS39C/D Gripen fleet.
Deliveries are scheduled from the middle of next year.
Flight International adds that Thales Optronics, previously the UK-based Pilkington, apparently beat
“The selection represents a follow-on success for Thales, with the company having previously acquired
Thales Optronics’ sales and marketing director Geraint Lloyd describes the DJRP as “a bespoke reconnaissance sensor with broad-area swath coverage”, and confirmed that the company was selected via prime contractor Saab.
The deal covers the pods and related ground exploitation equipment and also has the potential for future upgrades such as the addition of a real-time data transfer function, Lloyd added.
The DJRP sensors will be manufactured in
Weighing around 250kg, the DJRP has already been integrated with the UK Royal Air Force’s BAE Systems Harrier GR7/9 and Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft as well as the BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer.
With the SAAF’s inventory including 24 Hawk Mk120s, Lloyd says the reconnaissance pod’s “multi-platform capability” was a significant factor in its selection for the service.
Carriage trials with the DJRP will be conducted by Saab in
Flight clearance activities with the Gripen are expected to begin in mid-2010.
Pic: An artist’s rendition of the next-generation Gripen, used here to illustrate the DJRP under the aircraft’s right-hand air intake.