Armscor having difficulty lining up SAAF maintenance contracts


As the Department of Defence’s (DoD’s) defence material acquisition agency, Armscor is trying to make sure that maintenance contracts are in place to keep the South African Air Force’s (SAAF’s) aircraft flying in spite of budgetary and other challenges.

In a presentation to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on 10 November, Armscor gave a presentation on its service level agreement with the DoD, and this included the support contracts “funded from the limited SAAF operating budget.”

Armscor noted that funds have to be prioritised for allocation to the respective aircraft fleets and funding challenges inevitably result in under-funded support contracts as well as delays in receiving funding for support contracts. “Funding limitations are resulting in challenges with negotiating support contracts with OEM’s [original equipment manufacturers] that meet all SAAF requirements – this leads to delays in contract placement as well as periods with no support contracts for affected aircraft,” Armscor’s presentation stated.

In spite of these issues, Armscor is placing contracts to ensure airworthiness for much of the fleet. The Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), for example, has a contract that expires on 30 November, and placement of a new contract is in process, and this is expected to run from 1 December this year.

The Falcon business jet fleet has no contract in place, as this expired on 1 July, but a new contract will be placed from 1 December. The King Air maintenance contract is in place until 15 February 2023, but a new contract offer solicitation is in process.

For the transport fleet, the C-130BZ Hercules maintenance contract has been extended to 31 December, and a new contract will be placed by 1 January 2023. A contract for the C212 fleet has been in place since August, while the C-47TP fleet, which has not had a contract since April 2017, will finally have a maintenance contract from 1 December this year. The Cessna 208 Caravan maintenance contract is valid until 15 December.

On the rotary wing side, the Oryx support contract is valid until September 2023, as is the Rooivalk combat support helicopter contract. The BK 117 contract expired on 31 March this year, and Armscor is “still awaiting requirement from the SAAF.” For A109 Light Utility Helicopter support, this contract is valid until 30 November, and a new contract is in process for placement by 1 December. The Lynx maritime helicopter’s support contract is valid until September 2023, but Armscor is in the process of contracting for long lead spares.

After a year-long grounding, the SAAF’s Gripen fleet returned to the air in time for the September 2022 edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence, as an airframe support contract is in place with Saab effective 1 September. Armscor aims to have an engine support contract in place with GKN by 1 December. The Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter-trainer is supported until 30 June 2024, while the PC-7 Mk II fleet is supported by the manufacturer Pilatus until 15 March next year.