South African armaments acquisition agency Armscor has finally awarded Saab a support contract for the South African Air Force’s 26 Gripens. The SEK 180 million (R285 million) contract will see Saab support the Gripen fleet to 2016.
Saab said that the operations of the Gripen fighter in South Africa have previously been supported by Saab through short-term interim support contracts. However, since April the SAAF had no Gripen support contracts at all. The Air Force did hands on maintenance work, but it is not good for the aircraft to fly for extended periods without proper maintenance and support.
“The steady state support contract that has now been signed between Saab and Armscor enables Saab to conduct support operations in a sustainable manner with a long-term horizon, with high efficiency and availability,” the Swedish company said.
Through the steady state support contract, typical support services like engineering support, maintenance, repair and overhaul and spares replenishment will be carried out. The contract also includes technical publications amendment services.
“Signing of the steady state support contract marks the start of a deeper and extended relationship between Saab, Armscor and the South African Air Force. The Gripen operation climbs out of testing and delivery phase with ad hoc, short-term support efforts into a real sustained South African fighting force, constantly ready and supported by Saab,” said Magnus Lewis-Olsson, head of Saab’s market area Sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa ordered 28 Saab Gripen C & D advanced light fighter aircraft in 1999 as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package aka “arms deal”. The order was later trimmed to 26. By August 2011, the SAAF had spent R151 million on Gripen support.