South Africa’s Airforce becomes more lethal

South Africa has gotten the first batch of Digital Reconnaissance pods for their Gripen fighter jets.

October 9, 2010: South Africa has received the first of several Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pods for their recon aircraft. This is a digital version of an older, and popular, recon pod that used film. The digital version has two digital cameras and an infrared one. The Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod will be used on the Gripen aircraft South Africa has recently bought. Digital cameras are superior to film cameras because no film development is required, and digital images are more easily analyzed using software, rather than depending mostly on human photo interpreters. The infrared sensor records everything in the aircraft’s flight path, horizon-to-horizon. The pod records many gigabytes of data to onboard storage devices, and can also transmit data immediately to a ground station.

South Africa first took delivery of the planes in 2008. 26 were ordered.

Here is some background information on the Gripen .

This past summer, the Department of Defence awarded US aerospace group Raytheon a contract to supply Paveway 2 laser-guided air-to-ground bombs to South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Gripen aircraft.  This marked the first major sale of US defence equipment to SA in more than 25 years.

The Department of Defence has awarded US aerospace group Raytheon a contract to supply Paveway 2 laser-guided air-to-ground bombs for the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Gripen aircraft.This marks the first major sale of US defence equipment to SA in more than 25 years.

The US group will provide the air force with laser-guided bomb kits that transform dumb bombs into precision- guided munitions for operational tests and evaluations on the new Gripen fighter fleet.

The new bombs are due for delivery next year.

The sale was negotiated with the assistance of South African defence group Atlantis Corporation and, in addition to the weapons, Raytheon will provide air- and ground-crew training.

Helmoed Römer-Heitman, South African correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, said yesterday the contract was not entirely unexpected.

“The SAAF was faced with a large cost from Saab to convert the Gripen fleet to allow it use a locally manufactured air- to-surface bombs.

“So the SAAF elected to acquire an off-the-shelf, Nato standard bomb that allowed it to proceed with the Gripen’s operational test and evaluation programme without incurring further costs ,” said Mr Römer-Heitman.

Harry Schulte, vice-president of Raytheon’s Air Warfare Systems product line, said that the combat-proven Paveway family of weapons was “integrated on more than 22 aircraft and serves 41 nations around the globe, making this weapon the ideal choice for the warfighter”.

It is not the first time that the SAAF has used an off-the- shelf solution, after having bought the Iris-T air-to-air missile, currently used on the Gripen, from German group Diehl BGT Defence.

Mr Römer-Heitman said this system would also, in time, be replaced by A-Darter, a locally designed and manufactured air-to-air missile which was close to the end of its development programme.

Countries that operate the Gripen.

 

Gripen users 2010 in blue, orders in green

 

There were 155 Gripens in service in January 2010.

Czech Republic
Czech Air Force has 14 Gripens on lease, including 2 two-seaters, with all in operation as of January 2010.
Hungary
Hungarian Air Force has 14 Gripens on a lease-and-buy arrangement, including 2 two-seaters (C/D versions). The final three aircraft were delivered in December 2007.
South Africa
South African Air Force ordered 26 aircraft (down from 28), nine two-seater D-models and 17 single seat C-models. The first delivery, a two-seater, took place on 30 April 2008. The South African Air Force has nine two-seaters and six single-seaters in inventory as of June 2010.
Sweden
Swedish Air Force: 204 aircraft originally ordered, including 28 two-seaters (138 in service). Sweden leases 28 of the aircraft, including four two-seaters, to the Czech and Hungarian Air Forces. In 2007 the Swedish government decided that the future Swedish Air Force will deploy no more than 100 JAS 39C/D Gripen fighters.  A program to upgrade 31 of the air force’s JAS 39A/B fighters to JAS 39C/Ds was started. The SAF has 121 JAS 39s, including 53 JAS 39As, 10 JAS 39Bs, 45 JAS 39Cs and 13 JAS 39D in service in January 2010.
United Kingdom
Empire Test Pilots’ School: Under the agreement, ETPS instructor pilots and students undergo simulator training with the Swedish Air Force, and go on to fly the two-seater Gripen at Saab in Linköping, in two training campaigns per year (spring and autumn). The agreement was renewed in 2008.

Here are some videos of the Gripen.

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