Final Gripen fighters to be delivered in SeptemberDate: 31 August 2012
By Dean Wingrin
The final four Gripen fighter jets purchased by South Africa are being prepared for arrival in South African in mid-September.
South Africa purchased nine dual-seat and seventeen single-seat aircraft from Sweden in 2008 as part of the strategic defence equipment package. All nine dual-seat Gripen D aircraft have already been delivered, while 13 of the Gripen C have been delivered.
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. The final four single-seat aircraft were retained in Sweden to take part in Exercise Lion Effort in May. This was a major international exercise in which all major Gripen operators participated, including South Africa.
The final batch of aircraft, commencing with Gripen C 3126, was towed by road from Kungsängens airport to the port of Norrköping on August 29.
The aircraft will be loaded aboard the cargo vessel Aarchangelgracht (registered in Amsterdam) at the port of Norrkoping. The ship is due to arrive in Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town in mid-September, from where they aircraft will be towed to the nearby Ysterplaat airforce base. They will be made ready for flight at the airforce base prior to departing for AFB Makhado in the Limpopo province.
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, together with a single-seat Gripen C. The balance of the aircraft is assigned to 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado.
The Gripen and other military aircraft are expected to wow the public at the international Africa Aerospace and Defence airshow taking place at AFB Waterkloof on 22 and 23 September.