Denel Aerostructures has concluded its contract with Saab on the production of components for the Gripen fighter, but is maintaining its relationship with the Swedish company for future projects.
On Monday Saab was present at Denel Aerostructures’ (DAe) facility at O R Tambo International Airport to celebrate the delivery of 603 main landing gear units, rear fuselages and pylon sets, and to mark the end of its contract with DAe.
“Saab says we’re one of the best suppliers in the world,” said Ismail Dockrat, CEO of Denel Aerostructures. DAe said it had achieved numerous milestones and achievements on the Gripen programme, such as the passing of all quality standards and on time deliveries. Colin Singarum, Executive Manager: Business Development at DAe, told defenceWeb that DAe is one of Saab’s best suppliers and amongst the highest rated Gripen components suppliers.
The South African government ordered 26 Saab Gripen C and D aircraft in 1999. The Gripens were acquired together with 24 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter trainers. At the time Treasury put the figure for the two types combined at R15.772 billion. Only in 2007 did separate figures emerge: R7.2 billion for the Hawk and R19.908 billion for Gripen.
As part of the contract, the two companies had a joint defence industrial participation programme (DIPP) obligation of US$1.5 billion and a joint national industrial participation programme (NIPP) obligation of US$8.7 billion.
In 2006, as part of its DIPP offsets, Saab partnered with Denel to form Denel-Saab Aerostructures (DSA) to manufacture Gripen components. When Saab withdrew its 20% stake in the company in April 2011, it was renamed Denel Aerostructures.
Saab installed a Design & Development Centre at Denel Aerostructures, enabling the manufacture of Gripen components. The rear fuselage section as manufactured by DAe consists of more than 500 parts and is assembled at DAe’s plant before being shipped to Sweden for integration into the aircraft. The 2.5 x 1.5 metre section is made primarily of high-precision machining and sheet metal parts. In total, 145 main landing gear units are being supplied to Saab.
Production of underwing pylons started in 2003 at a rate of six per month, with more than 200 pylons already delivered. With Sweden’s entry into the European Union these pylons have been designed to meet Nato requirements. DAe has stopped manufacturing pylons for the Gripen as no more sales have been forthcoming, but the company is optimistic that it may receive future work as Saab receives more Gripen contracts.