SANDF denies knowledge of Gripen fighter school


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) says it has no plans to partner with defence company Saab to establish a Gripen Fighter Weapon School at Air Force Base Overberg.

The SANDF in a statement this afternoon says it has noted “with concern the insinuations by media reports to partner with SAAB to establish a Gripen Fighter Weapon School at Air Force Base Overberg as reported. We would like to place on record that there has never been any discussion between SAAB and the SANDF.
“It is with dismay that we read such in the media when no interaction whatsoever with regard to the purported school. The Air Force Base Overberg is a sensitive security establishment of the SANDF and will remain solely in the hands of the SANDF. The suggestion therefore that such a school will be established is devoid of truth,” the SANDF said.

CE and President of Saab South Africa Magnus Lewis-Olsson made the announcement last week Tuesday at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK. He said the first course was scheduled to take place late 2013. It would use between four and six South African Air Force (SAAF) Gripen C/D fighters and will have at least six students for the first course in October.

A 1 000 square metres building at AFB Overberg would be dedicated to the school and would include briefing and debriefing rooms, a lecture hall, lunchroom, locker rooms, a gym and sauna, offices and IT infrastructure. Both South African and Swedish Air Force instructors will conduct the course, Saab added.

Saab said the Overberg site offers “exceptional training with extensive airspace over mountain ranges, deserts and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans”. The school will have access to the Denel Overberg Test Range, which has become a well-known venue for the in-flight performance measurement of missiles and aircraft systems. The course will be run during the South African summer, “which offers favourable metrological conditions,” Saab said. The training will focus on different multirole aspects every year and the advanced airborne exercises will be mixed with academia and survival training in an African context.

Saab said it was 100% committed to the project while the SAAF was onboard and supporting the project, “but final and formal approval with South African government bodies is still outstanding.”