Home Forum Shop Alumni

Aircraft Stats:

Powerplant: 1 x SNECMA Atar 09K50C, 10,500 lb (15,050 lb a/b) thrust
Speed: 2350 kph, 1460mph mph
Seats: 1
Length: 16.18m, 53ft 08in
Span: 8.22m, 97ft 97in
Empty Weight: 8 210kg, 18,100lb
Max T/O Weight: 16200kg, 35,715lb
Period of Service: 1993 - 2008

Cheetah C

Status: Retired
Manufacturer: Atlas
Country of Manufacture: South Africa
Role: Fighter

The Cheetah C is the ultimate development of the Cheetah series, and it is currently the only fighter-aircraft type in service with the SAAF. Many of the features of this aircraft are still classified, and the SAAF is unwilling to reveal too many details. Further upgrades from the Cheetah E incorporated a more sophisticated avionics and navigation suite and a new pulse-doppler, multi-mode radar (possibly the Elbit EL/M-2032 multimode radar) and an advanced EW suite. The aircraft is also fitted with a datalink, though the capabilities of this system are unknown, and it received updated versions of the helmet-mounted sight, HUD and improved HOTAS controls.

Other improvements include the fitment of a single-piece wrap-around windshield with an anti-radiation coating in place of the old three-piece version, a new in-flight refuelling probe with less external piping, new undercarriage and suspension, the deletion of the wing fences, an upgraded version of the Atar 9K50 and a new nose to incorporate the more sophisticated electronics and radar.

Oddly, the Cheetah C seems to retain ta variant of the old Martin-Baker JM6 ejection seat.

Like the Cheetah D, the Cheetah C is capable of delivering precision-guided munitions (PGMs), ranging from laser-guided bombs (LGBs), to GPS-guided weapons and TV-guided bombs. It also has the capability of using stand-off air-to-ground weapons such as the MUPSOW and TORGOS. In addition, it is able to carry a raft of air-to-air weapons, and the SAAF currently equips its aircraft with the V4 R-Darter, a beyond-visual-range (BVR) radar-guided missile, and the U/Darter, a highly capable short-range infrared (IR)-guided missile.

Armament Guns:
2x 30 mm DEFA cannons
Bombs: 250 kg Laser-guided bombs (LGB), GPS-guided bombs, 250 kg 'booster' bombs, various unguided 'iron' bombs
Missiles: V4 R-Darter (BVR missile), U/Darter, V3C Darter, Python 3
Other: Two auxiliary fuel tanks (fitted with two 125 kg bomb pylons each)

The type was phased out on 1 April 2008 pending the introduction of the Gripen.


Cheetah C 355 during 1995. Cheetah C 362 at AFB Makhado on 8 October 2005. Cheetah C 344 of TFDC. Cheetah C during 1995. Cheetah C 356 in 2000. Cheetah C 356 in 2000.