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The SAAF's Lieutenant Colonel Musa Mbhokota, who has clocked over 2000 flying hours on eight different aircraft types, including Gripen, is all set to become Officer Commanding AFB Overberg.

Mbhokota was one of first six SAAF pilots who went to Sweden to understand the Gripen fighter system when South Africa placed the Gripen C/D order in the nineties. He was also the first black pilot to assume command of 2 Squadron, which operates the SAAF’s Gripen fighters. He first flew Gripen in the year 2002 in Sweden.

Mbhokota will assume his first base command later this month.

Read the full story here​.

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South African company Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) will locally manufacture cannon ammunition for the SAAF Gripen, reports Defence Web​.

Phaladi Petje, CEO of PMP says that the design and development on Gripen ammunition production is being finalized with Armscor and the South African Air Force (SAAF). Petje adds that PMP intends to work closely with Saab and gun manufacturer Mauser on ammunition.

Currently, the ammunition is made in Germany by automotive parts supplier Rheinmetall. According to the Defence Web report, a single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon with 120 rounds of ammunition is added to a single seat Gripen. Ammunition available includes high explosive, armour piercing, armour piercing high explosive, semi armour piercing high explosive, and target practice.

PMP is a Denel Group company that specializes in small- and medium-calibre ammunition, brass products, detonics, power cartridges and mining drill-bits.

Read the full story here.

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The South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Air Capability Demonstration (ACD) was held at the Roodewal weapons range, Limpopo province on the 10thof September. The Roodewal range, according to SAAF officials, is one of the few places in the world where live weapons can be safely fired seven minutes after takeoff.

The ACD, an annual program, is a rare opportunity to observe close range live aircraft firing and to test the SAAF’s capabilities. The exercise keeps the South African National Defense Forces (SANDF) ready for emergencies and focuses on collaboration and inter-operability among all branches of the SANDF.

The demonstration consisted of recon missions by the Gripen, also featuring its capabilities of evading anti-air defenses, simulated dog fights, cargo drops by the C-130 Hercules, tactical surveillance and insertion of ground forces. Deputy Chief of the SAAF, Major General Gerald Malinga said that the ACD was a chance for the senior command and staff course members to see air power at the strategic and operational levels of war and showcase how air power is applied.

The demonstration concluded with a flyby including all the participating aircraft with remarkable flare releases by the Gripen and C-130.

Read more for a detailed account of the demonstration.

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Two South African Air Force Gripen performed at an SA naval exercise called Ex Good Hope VI last month, reports Navy.mil.za.

In one of the multi-threat exercises aimed at building defence against air and subsurface threats, a Gripen bomber aircraft and a Lear Jet played a crucial role. The warfare department used sensors to detect the aircraft miles away and once the target was locked on, it was decided what type of weapon would be used. In this scenario, an FSG HESSEN and an SAS SPIOENKOP were hit by a missile from the Gripen fighter aircraft, prompting the ships to conduct blanket searches and damage control. 

The objective of Ex Good Hope VI included training and promoting naval skills and maintaining full operational readiness of the SA Navy. 

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy:SA Navy​

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Denel Dynamics has bagged a five-year production contract for the A-Darter air-to-air missile, to be integrated with SAAF Gripen C/D fighters, reports IHS Jane's.

According to the report, the missiles have been developed under SAAF’s Project Kamas which commenced in 2011. The missiles will complement the small batch of IRIS-T missiles which are already integrated with SAAF Gripen C/D.

A-Darter is a fifth-generation Imaging Infrared (IIR) SRAAM air-to-air missile system with capabilities like a lock-on after launch, memory tracking and thrust-vector control that gives it a very high angle of attack. The missile also features countermeasures resistance with a 180-degrees look angle and 120-degrees per second track rate.

Besides Gripen, A-Darter missiles will be integrated to SAAF’s Hawk Mk120 lead-in fighter trainer. Denel is also discussing a production contract with Brazil which may use A-Darter for its upgraded F-5s and Gripen E/F in future.

Read the full story here.

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Last week, South African Air Force Gripen completed the actual launch of an A-Darter missile. The missile successfully reached the target, which was an unmanned aircraft flying at a 600 meters higher altitude, reports Airheadsfly.com.

As a part of this test, the rocket was launched towards a remotely-controlled aircraft in order to test the maneuverability of the missile. 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 can spot the difference between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares the bogey might launch to fool the missile.

Portal Brazil quoted the project manager for Brazil, Colonel Julius Caesar Cardoso Tavares, saying that the main feature of the latest generation of missiles is their ability to perform high-performance maneuvers.

"The guidance sensor detects the target and the missile also calculates the best route," said the Colonel.

A-Darter does not have small wings that are used for maneuvering. Instead, it can direct the thrust of its rocket engine, performing maneuvers while sustaining up to 100Gs. 

The report adds that the A-Darter is now 90 percent ready. South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is the leading company of the project.

Read the full story: Future Brazilian Gripen Missile Successfully Fired In South Africa

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Čáslav in the Czech Republic will host tri-annual exercise Lion Effort, starring the Gripen C/D in all roles, in 2015. Several Gripen operators will participate in the exercise.

Lion Effort presents a great opportunity for various Gripen operators to not just train together but to also share best practices and operational know-how with each other.

The first Lion Effort exercise was held in 2009 in Hungary, while the second was held in Sweden in 2012. In 2012, four of the five Gripen operating nations participated in the exercise. Royal Thai Air Force Gripen were not present but observers from the Air Force attended the exercise.

Lion Effort consists of various planned and unplanned missions followed by brainstorming sessions during which participants raise questions and suggest ways of refining the plan. The exercise provides a platform for testing the operational deployment ability of the Gripen and training of air and ground crews in multinational operations.​

Image Coutesy: Peter Liander​

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South African Gripen participated in IBSAMAR IV exercises which were designed to create a framework for an integrated Naval Force based on cooperation between the Indian Navy, Brazilian Navy and South African Navy.

According to a South African Navy Official website report, IBSAMAR IV was divided into various stages. The 2nd Sea phase, scheduled between 03 November 2014 and 06 November 2014, was directed by Exercise Control Centre in Silvermine as the phase was dubbed “free play” week.

In this phase, the scenarios were aimed to train the forces deployed at the sea for unplanned attacks. They were also designed to simulate real time war situations based on the idea that during war, 80 per cent of the time is spent waiting.

South African Air Force Gripen acted as a bomber attack aircraft which had to be detected by the radar operators on board SAS SPIOENKOP from 120 miles away. The Super Lynx Helicopter was deployed from SAS SPIOENKOP to search for SAS ‘MANTHATISI, the attacker/enemy submarine.

The 2nd Sea phase concluded with boarding of SAS UMHLOTI by members of Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) and Special Force team at Saldanha North Basin during the anti-piracy exercise. This exercise involved a challenging situation where the MRS team had to test its skills against the Special Force team.

Read the full story: The end of a successfully executed EX IBSAMAR IV

Image Courtesy: South African Navy Official website

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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has decided to send a contingent, which includes two Gripen fighters and a mobile air operations team, on standby to the newly-established African Union’s African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (Acirc), reports IHS Jane's.

According to the Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, the joint combat group, with a strength of more than 1,500 personnel, will include a composite mechanized car squadron, a light artillery battery and a troop from 2 Field Engineer Regimen.

The South African Navy will also support with its inshore craft and Marines as per the requirement.

Acirc is a temporary, stand-by force capable of responding quickly to crisis situations in Africa. It will be replaced by the African Standby Force when it becomes fully operational.

Read the full story: South Africa to place troops on standby for African crisis response​​

​Gripen's aerial display was the main attraction at AAD 2014 which was held at AFB Waterkloof, Centurion in the City of Tshwane, South Africa between 17 and 21 September.

Besides Gripen, flying programme at the event included performances by Silver Falcons, Cheetah and Hawks.

South Africa was Gripen’s first export customer. Its fleet consists of 9 two-seat and 17 single seat versions of Gripen. The fleet is flown and maintained by the crews and personnel of 2 Squadron, stationed at AFB Makhado in Limpopo Province.

South Africa was also the first Gripen customer to order the state-of-the-art ”Cobra” HMD ( Helmet Mounted Display).

An HMD displays data directly onto the helmet visor, allowing the Gripen pilot to stay ‘heads up’ at crucial points in the mission. The Cobra is a binocular system that displays both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons symbology, as well as basic flight data.

At AAD 2014, South African manufacturing company Denel Dynamics officials revealed that its imaging infrared-guided A-Darter has completed integration tests for SAAF’s Gripen C/D multi-role fighter, and trials are ongoing for the Hawk advanced trainer. 

Denel is preparing to begin pre-integration flight trials of the missile on the Gripen NG in November.

Launched in 1975, AAD is held every two years in different parts of South Africa. The next AAD is expected to be held in 2016.

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