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The SAAF announces new Gripen contract with SAAB


After a lengthy discussion between the South African Air Force (SAAF), through Armscor and SAAB on the contract concerning the Gripen, proposals have been presented by both parties and are being reviewed to ensure that the matter is conclusively dealt with by the parties concerned.

It is, unfortunately, discussions took significantly longer than expected and as a result, the Air Defence capability of the SAAF has been negatively impacted. The SAAF, however, is confident that a solution will be found to resolve this matter.

The previous support contract for the South African Gripen weapon system, signed in 2017, had a total value of R314 million over the period November 2017 to February 2020. Sadly, due to the sensitivity around the discussion, the negotiations cannot be made public at this time.

The South African Air Force has been operating the Gripen fighter system since 2008 when the first Gripen was delivered. The SAAF currently operates seventeen JAS 39C’s multi-role Gripen fighters and nine JAS 39D conversion trainers all based at 2 Squadron AFB Makhado situated in the north of the Limpopo Province.

2 Squadron was formed in 1940 and boasts has a long illustrious history, having been involved in every single combat action in which the SAAF has taken part. During the Second World War, it made a name for itself in the battles for East Africa, before distinguishing itself in North Africa as part of the Desert Air Force, and later in Italy.

The squadron was South Africa's contribution to the United Nations war effort during the Korean War from November 1950 to December 1953. 2 Squadron was attached to the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing U.S. Air Force for the duration of the war. Initially flying the P-51 Mustang, the squadron re-equipped with the F-86 Sabre in February 1953.

In 1963 the Squadron was re-equipped with Mirage III’s and fought in several engagements during the Angola Bush War. In 1990 the Squadron was once again re-equipped with Atlas Cheetah C’s and D’s.

Gripen C-series is today the backbone of several air forces around the world: Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. The UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide. Gripen is NATO compatible and globally interoperable, meeting the most demanding operational requirements, and has now accumulated well over 3000,000 flight hours.

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