Tag Archives: South African Air Force

Lion Effort: getting a grip on Gripen

Lion Effort 2015 officialy kicked off today at Čáslav airbase in the Czech Republic. Pilots from  the locally based 211. taktické letky (tactical squadron), along with colleagues from Sweden and Hungary, are getting a grip on the aircraft they all fly: the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. For the next two weeks, packages of Gripens conduct air-to-air training and exchange tactics, techniques and procedures that allow them to operate alongside each other.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST UPDATE | 19 May 2015 – Hungarian JAS 39D crash

Taking part are six Czech Gripens, five Hungarian Gripens and no less than 11 Swedish Gripens. Supporting Lion Effort 2015 are Czech L-159 light attack jets, Mi-17 Hip and Mi-24 Hind helicopters, plus a Casa 295 transport aircraft. Acting as opponents are Polish F-16s operating from their home base of Łask, and German Eurofighter Typhoons flying from Lechfeld in Germany.

The 2012 edition of tri-annual exercise Lion Effort saw even the South African Air Force (SAAF) taking part, since at the same time the last batch of South African Gripens came rolling off the Saab production line in Linköping, Sweden. This time, the SAAF choose to stay home. A delegation from Thailand – another Saab Gripen user – is present however, acting as observers.

“It is an honour for the Czech Air Force to host this year’s Lion Effort which also marks ten year anniversary of flying the JAS-39 Gripen in our air forces,” says Czech Air Force commander Brigadier General Libor Štefánik. “Having NATO allies and partner nations flying together is a great opportunity. The air and ground crews will learn from each other and further improve their interoperability.”

Saab itself is not represented at Čáslav and neither is the Força Aérea Brasileira. A delegation from Brazil would not have been strange at all, since the country is to receive the new Saab Gripen E/F in the not too distant future and Brazilians are already flying the Gripen in Sweden. There’s always next time, in 2018.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Gripen on the flight line at Čáslav airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Future Brazilian Gripen missile successfully fired in South Africa

The A-Darter, the planned air-to-air missile for the future Brazilian Air Force SAAB JAS 39E/F fighter jet has been successfully test-fired by a South African Air Force JAS 39D Gripen at the Overberg range on 9 February 2015, the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) confirmed on 12 February 2015.

Brazil and South Africa are now co-operating on the A-Darter, with support from Swedish SAAB. The test was part of the continuing development of the weapon, ahead of the introduction into service of a dozen JAS 39C/Ds Brazil will lease from Sweden from 2016 forward. The C/Ds will be gradually replaced by the new E/Fs from 2019, with those aircraft been mainly assembled and partly produced by Brazil’s own Embraer aircraft company.

The recent launch of the A-Darter was aimed at testing the manoeuvrability of the missile, with the rocket launched towards a remotely-controlled aircraft. The heat-guided weapon is designed to perform while sustaining up to 100Gs, with targets within a 12 miles radius. The A-Darter’s sensor-eye is said to see the difference between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares the bogey might launch to fool the missile. South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is the leading company of the project.

The latest A-Darter test of February 2015 (Image © Denel Dynamcis via Força Aérea Brasileira)
The latest A-Darter test of February 2015 (Image © Denel Dynamcis via Força Aérea Brasileira)

According to the FAB the A-Darter is now 90 percent ready. The first test-firing was done on 20 July 2010, also at the Overberg range by a SAAF Gripen. Two Brazilian Gripen pilots made their first solo flights last month, marking a milestone of the project that will give at least 36 Gripen E/Fs for the Brazilian Air Force. The number might actually go up to 108.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Força Aérea Brasileira and Denel Dynamics
Featured image (top): The South African Air Force’s SAAB JAS 39D Gripen ’01’ which was involved in testing the new A-Darter in February 2015 (Image © Frans Dely / Gripen International)

↑ Check out our continuing news stream on the SAAB Gripen in Brazilian Air Force service

A SAAB JAS 39C Gripen of the South African Air Force (Image © Marcel Burger)
A SAAB JAS 39C Gripen of the South African Air Force (Image © Marcel Burger)

South Africa keeps Gripen flying, despite budget issues

A SAAB JAS 39C Gripen of the South African Air Force (Image © Marcel Burger)
A SAAB JAS 39C Gripen of the South African Air Force (Image © Marcel Burger)

The South African Air Force will keep its SAAB JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet in the air despite hundreds of millions of dollars of budget shortages, sources within the South African military confirmed on September 6, 2013.

Both the Gripen, the Hawk training jet and several support aircraft are threatened with long-time storage already for months now in order to save money. But according to a new plan all 26 JAS 39C/D will stay active in turns by simply rotate them through maintenance and flying status. On the long run this would be more cost efficient and keep the country’s only proper airborne air defence assets available, say SAAF senior officials. This will mean 2 Squadron at Makhado Air Base, which flies the Gripen, will stay at strength. But it will also mean up to half of the Gripen fleet can be in ‘maintenance’ at certain times.

The faith of the 24 Hawk Mk 120 lead-in advanced trainer or other aircraft is still highly uncertain. The single Boeing 737 BBJ presidential aircraft is likely to be kept airworthy, as well as some of the army support helicopters like the Rooivalk attack chopper. The latter is destined to be deployed for UN or South African National Defence Force missions on the African continent.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

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