South African air force cuts budget

Oct. 27, 2010 at 3:08 PM
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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Battered by the global recession, South Africa's defense ministry is facing cuts.

South African Defense Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has promised that despite budget cuts, South Africa's defense forces will remain "fully functional" and the air force's Gripen jet fighters will continue flying, Business Day reported Wednesday.

Sisulu told journalists that the Defense Ministry isn't requesting for more money from the Treasury "because we are mindful of the Cabinet decision to tighten belts. But we will have to find a way to remain fully functional."

The defense minister's comments follow a warning from the South African air force that fiscal constraints could see the nation's $1.4 billion advanced Gripen jet fighters mothballed to preserve the air force's Hawks trainer system.

The air force maintains that keeping both programs operational isn't possible under present funding.

In reply, Sisulu said that the Defense Department has analyzed where budget cuts might be made and where funds can be shifted between programs.

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