The South African Air Force now has 18 of 26 Saab Gripen C and D advanced light fighter aircraft. Airframes 3917, 3918 and 3919 arrived in Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town, on Saturday aboard the Dutch-registered cargo vessel Artisgracht. The three aircraft were offloaded yesterday morning and towed the eight kilometres from the port to AFB Ysterplaat on the quiet weekend streets of Cape Town.
They had been loaded onboard the vessel at the port of Norrkoping in Sweden. The aircraft are now being made ready for flight at the airbase prior to departing for their new home at AFB Makhado in Limpopo province.
With all nine dual-seat Gripen D aircraft already delivered, these three aircraft will join the first six Gripen Cs that were delivered early last year. Armscor, the South African arms procurement agency, is responsible for the delivery of the aircraft to South Africa once they have been handed over by the aircraft manufacturer, SAAB, in Sweden. Delivery of the seventeenth and final Gripen C is expected next year.
The original order was for nine Gripen D dual-seat and 19 Gripen C single-seat aircraft. However, the order was revised in 2005 to nine dual-seat and seventeen single-seat aircraft valued at R19.908 billion. The first instrumented Gripen D was delivered in April 2008 and is based at the SAAF’s Test flight and Development Centre near Bredasdorp in the southern Cape. The balance of the aircraft are assigned to 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado. Airframe 3916 remains in Sweden where it appears to be in use as the integration platform for the Thales Optronics Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod (DJRP). The aircraft has been shown flying the pod in publicity photographs. THales and Saab announced at Africa Aerospace & Defence 2010 in Sepember last yearthat un undisclosed number of pods had been delivered byy th former to the latter for an undisclosed amount.