End of the runway for Cheetah fighter jetsDate: 3 April 2008
It was the end of an era for the SA Air Force (SAAF) on Wednesday when the Cheetah fighter jets were decommissioned.
The Cheetahs are to be replaced by Gripen fighter jets, which will arrive between now and 2012.
At the height of its military power, South Africa had 58 Cheetah fighter jets.
During the decommissioning at Air Force Base Makhado in Limpopo on Wednesday, SAAF Chief Lieutenant Carlo Gagiano took part in the 14-jet fly-by, performed by the 2 Cheetah Squadron.
Gagiano described the Cheetah as a fighter jet that separated the men from the boys.
"The Cheetah was born out of the necessity to counteract the development of the more advanced technologies by our then adversaries and the need to modernise the inventory of the SAAF," he said, adding that the Cheetahs had produced many successful pilots.
Major Mark Wilson, who has flown Cheetahs for six years, said: "A new era is about to begin with the arrival of the Gripen fighter jets.
"These planes will continue to make South Africa's a formidable defence force," he said.
Gripens are in service with the Swedish, Czech Republic and Hungarian Air Forces.
Source: Pretoria News