The South African Air Force (SAAF) has flown one of its JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets for the first time since the aircraft were grounded in September 2021.
The flight took place at Air Force Base Makhado on September 5, 2022.
According to Darren Oliver, director at African Defence Review, a three-year support contract for 13 jets has been signed.
A South African Air Force Gripen flew today for the first time in over a year.— Darren Olivier (@darren_olivier) September 5, 2022
The flight of 3918, a Gripen C, from Makhado came after intense work by 2 Squadron technicians & pilots to get aircraft & crews flightworthy after the long-delayed support contract was finally signed.
The entire fleet of SAAF Gripens has been grounded since August 2021 after maintenance contracts with Sweden’s Saab and Britain’s GKN lapsed due to budget cuts.
The jets could not be maintained, and approval to fly them could not be obtained, leaving the South African Republic without its main fighter jet.
“At one point it wasn’t at all certain that we’d ever see a SAAF Gripen in the air again,” Olivier explained in a tweet.
Following lengthy negotiations between the maintenance companies, the SAAF, and the country’s military procurement agency Armscor, a compromise has been reached, Olivier added.
In lieu of an official statement, the SAAF republished an article published by DefenseWeb on September 6 about the ungrounding, thus confirming the event.
In late August, Armscor said that all SAAF aircraft maintenance contracts were resolved, the article stated.