South African – Israeli Cheetah Fighter will Help Train U.S Pilots

South African – Israeli Cheetah Fighter will Help Train U.S Pilots

cheetah fighter

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The South African company Denel Aviation has concluded an agreement for the sale of 12 South African-designed Cheetah fighter jets to the US-based Draken International. The contract includes return to service and flight acceptance tests in South Africa and aircraft delivery to the US. In addition, Denel is also pursuing post-delivery logistics support for the duration of aircraft operations, according to the company’s announcement on its website.

The South African Cheetah fighter jet is based on the Israeli Kfir aircraft. The Cheetah was developed during the 1980s by the South African Denel Aviation company. At the time, South Africa claimed formally that it was an improved version of the French Mirage 3. However, experts asserted that it was the local version of the Kfir developed and manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries. The Kfir, too, was based on the French Mirage 3.

Denel claims the sale is a major achievement for the South African defence industry, as other South African companies will form part of the logistics support programme.

Draken International is often described as “the world’s largest private air force.” It is based in Florida in the USA and has a wide range of tactical aircraft and jets in its fleet. The fighters are deployed by air forces across the globe and used for air support, pilot training and tactical exercises.

The Cheetahs will be the first South-African designed fighters added to Draken International’s inventory. The sale includes nine Cheetah C jets and three, dual-seat Cheetah D planes. The planes can fly at twice the speed of sound – Mach 2.2 – and operate at ranges of more than 1300km.

The aircraft were retired from active duty following South Africa’s acquisition of its new fleet of Saab Gripen fighter jets.

Denel Aeronautics is further engaging with Draken International to secure a logistics support contract by end January 2018 for the supply of component and engine maintenance, repair and overhaul as well as design authority and systems engineering support.