South Africa cannot afford the Erieye airborne surveillance system. Swedish defence company Saab has been punting the advanced radar plane as a civil and border security solution for SA, especially during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
But Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano, Chief of the SA Air Force, says the system is too expensive for SA.
Germany employed part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation`s Boeing E3 Sentry fleet to safeguard their 2006 event and Saab was reportedly hopeful SA had a similar requirement.
“Now we`re talking real money,” says Gagiano. “We don`t have the capacity. There`s no money in the defence budget for Erieye. From an acquisition point of view, I don`t see it, although I would like it, but the financial realities won`t allow it.”
Some sources have suggested a lease option.
But Gagiano says asking an “allied” air force to help, if required, may be the preferred option. “Brazil being one of these, we could ask them to provide the service.”
“Next year, after the Gauteng [2010 preparatory] exercise, we`ll make a final decision. The air force command post, the SAPS [SA Police Service] and [the] Joint Operations [Division] are involved with this.”
“Also when you introduce a very complicated weapon system like that, it does not happen in six months … so I think we can rule out totally the acquisition side of it…”