The South African Air Force has started maintaining its small arsenal of Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile (SRAAM) acquired for the SAAB Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft after May 2008. It last week awarded Diehl BGT Defence a R42 600 order for the “purging of missiles” and the rental of gas filling equipment, taking known expenditure on the interim fifth generation SRAAM to R102 445 683.45.
The infra-red guided IRIS-T was acquired as an interim weapon for Gripen of which the SAAF now have nine two-seat examples and six single-seaters. The fleet will stand at 26 by 2012, a year before the first Denel Dynamics A-Darter 5th generation SRAAM is delivered to the SAAF. The IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) missiles were delivered late last year and debuted aboard the Gripen at a parade in January to mark the 90th birthday of the SAAF. The wikipedia claims the modern missile costs about €400 000 each.
Chief of the Air Force (CAF) Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano last year said the SAAF was contemplating a beyond visual range AAM (BVRAAM) for Gripen, but added that high integration costs and a tight budget this would likely mean the choice of a weapon already integrated by the original equipment manufacturer. Denel Dynamics, the state arsenal business unit developing the A-Darter with Brazil under a billion rand programme dubbed Project Assegaai, had hoped to develop a local radar-guided BVRAAM for Gripen, provisionally called the T-Darter.
SAAB is currently integrating the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM onto the Gripen for the Swedish Air Force.
Purging of missile and rental of gas filling equipment forthe Iris-T systems – extension of ETMG/2007/423
– TMG/S2010/0121 18 Nov 2010 R42 600,00 Diehl BGT Defence
Procurement of an interim short range Air-to-Air missile – extension of ETMG/2007/423
– UKZ/S2009/0110 22 Apr 2010 R601 192,50 Diehl BGT Defence GmbH
Interim fifth generation short range air-to-air missile for the RSA Gripen
– ETMG/2007/423 29 May 2008 R101 801 890,95 Diehl BGT Defence GmbH