Saab announced on Monday the signing of a support contract for the service, repair and maintenance of the South African Air Force (SAAF) Gripen C/D fighter jets. The order value is SEK 333 million (about $30 million) for a period of three years. Saab’s first foreign customer, the South African Air Force (SAAF) has been struggling recently.
Following a series of military budget cuts, the fleet maintenance contracts, which were provided by Saab and the British company GKN, expired and the aircraft were grounded in August 2021.
Only on the 5th of September did a South African Gripen fly again. The SAAF, which has operated the Swedish fighter since 2008, has 26 active aircraft, with 17 single-seaters (Gripen C) and nine two-seaters (Gripen D). Saab did not specify how many planes will be repaired and put back into service under the new support agreement.
“I am very happy and satisfied that we have now reached an agreement for a new support contract, so that we in the very best way can support our customers with their operational needs,” says Åsa Schöllin, head of Saab´s business unit Gripen Sustainment.
Formerly known as the “Turbo Gripen”, the Gripen C/D entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 2002 and has been exported to South Africa, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Thailand. The aircraft derives from the Gripen A/B, developed by Saab in the late 1980s and introduced in Sweden in 1996.
Currently, Saab is manufacturing the Gripen E/F, which was chosen by the Swedish and Brazilian air forces.