(000228.79-E000157.73NRLOSUC20V)[I can't help but chuckle when I read this kind of junk. We only have 26 Gripens and they're all grounded. In the heyday of SAAF under White rule, the air force had about 350 aircraft. It was nothing like the clown show you see today. I like it when our enemy is not doing well. This is good. The Government is the ENEMY of Whites. Jan]
Close on two months after South Africans heard fighter jets in “their” air force were grounded, the situation remains unchanged with a national defence force senior media officer saying “the matter could be finalised in the new financial year”.
Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, who heads the Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), was responding to a defenceWeb enquiry.
Early in December Siphiwe Dlamini, Department of Defence (DoD) Head of Communication (HoC), told South Africa the Gripen jet fighter fleet of the SA Air Force (SAAF) was temporarily grounded. The Swedish designed and manufactured, single-engined fourth generation fighters were acquired in the late nineties as part of government’s SDPP (Strategic Defence Procurement Package) to re-equip the SAAF and the SA Navy (SAN).
The grounding of 2 Squadron’s fighters was put down to a lack of funding and maintenance and support contracts not being renewed. This, according to Dlamini, meant no aircraft were serviceable.
Lengthy discussions between the SAAF, Armscor and Saab on the Gripen maintenance contract saw proposals presented, Dlamini’s December statement read, adding these would be reviewed “to ensure the matter is conclusively dealt with by the parties concerned”.
“It is unfortunate discussions took longer than expected as a result negatively impacting on air defence capability.”
Asked if and what action SAAF personnel possibly found to be derelict in the execution of duties as regards maintenance contracts for the Gripens would face, Mahapa told defenceWeb “normal disciplinary steps will be taken if personnel are found to have neglected their duties”.
The grounding of the Gripens was not unexpected with some military aviation observers warning it was coming as far back as 2016. Opinions were expressed implicating defence budget cuts with the poor performance of the SA Rand against particularly the US dollar making spares increasingly expensive. A SAAF decision to implement what it termed “rotational storage” to save wear and tear on aircraft appears not to have been successful – evidenced by the grounding of all 26 Gripens.
The DoD 2021/22 annual performance plan, which runs until the end of the current financial year which ends on 31 March, saw the SAAF, under the plan’s air defence component, allocated R5.9 billion against a projected need of R7.8 billion. The shortfall would adversely impact preparation and provision of combat ready air defence capabilities, as well as the maintenance backlog, maintenance of capabilities and aviation safety.