PRETORIA, South Africa, July 26 (UPI) -- Raytheon is to supply Paveway II laser-guided bombs to South Africa, the first significant sale of U.S. defense equipment to the country in 25 years.
Pretoria's Armaments Corporation of South Africa, the South African defense ministry's procurement organization, awarded the contract for the LGBs, often called "smart bombs," to Raytheon.
ARMSCOR set up the direct commercial sale, which includes air- and ground-crew training, with the help of South African defense consulting business Atlantis, in Stellenbosch. Raytheon appointed Atlantis the sole South African representative for its Paveway II system in May 2009.
Deliveries of the air-to-ground weapons will start next year.
Raytheon will supply LGB computer control groups and air foil groups to transform ordinary "dumb" bombs into precision-guided munitions for operational test and evaluation on air force's Gripen fighter aircraft.
"The combat-proven Paveway family of weapons is integrated on more than 22 aircraft and serves 41 nations around the globe, making this weapon the ideal choice for the South African war-fighter," Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon's Air Warfare Systems, said.
"Raytheon is the sole provider of the Paveway family of weapons and is committed to providing the war-fighter with a reliable direct-attack weapon at a cost-effective price."
Paveways made up more than half the air-to-ground precision guided weapons used in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the spring of 2003, a Raytheon statement said. Newer versions of Paveway include GPS/INS guidance capabilities.
The South African air force has ordered 26 Gripens, comprising 17 single-seater and nine two-seater versions. The first Gripen D was delivered in April 2008 and the last aircraft, a Gripen C, is scheduled for delivery in 2012.
The Paveway is officially integrated into Saab's Gripen aircraft, unlike the other contract contender, the Umbani LGB from South African manufacturer Denel Dynamics, formerly Kentron. The Umbani would have needed some development and technical work for a Gripen to accommodate it.
Earlier this month, Saab said it used a Gripen aircraft, based at the Overberg test area in South Africa, to carry out the first test firing of an A-Darter missile. The successful test of the infrared homing air-to-air A-Darter was to verify the integration of the weapon into the Gripen aircraft.
The solid-fuel A-Darter, nearly 10 feet long, is a collaborative development between local South African industry, including Denel Dynamics South Africa, and Mectron in Brazil where Saab has a major role for the integration of complex future missile systems.
The A-Darter is a fifth-generation short-range air-to-air missile for aerial combat with the new generation of fighter aircraft, a Saab statement said. In South Africa the A-Darter it will be operational on Gripen and in Brazil it is the weapon of choice for the future fighters of the F-X2 program.
"The A- Darter and the Gripen aircraft have worked beyond our expectations and we are extremely pleased with the test firing results." Magnus Reineholm, project manager for the integration of A-Darter at Saab, said.