Draken International to buy surplus South African fighters

By Richard Tomkins  |  Dec. 12, 2017 at 1:15 PM
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Dec. 12 (UPI) -- South Africa's state-owned defense company, Denel SOC Ltd., is selling 12 surplus Cheetah fighter jets to Draken International, a U.S.-based tactical fighter training company.

The sales contract, announced Tuesday by Denel, includes return to service and flight acceptance tests in South Africa and aircraft delivery to the United States. The company is also pursuing post-delivery logistics support for the duration of aircraft operations.

Draken International will use the planes for air support, fighter pilot training and tactical exercises for air forces around the world.

Draken said its sale includes nine South African-designed Cheetah C jets and three dual-seat Cheetah D aircraft. The supersonic planes have operational ranges of more than 800 miles. The Cheetah fighters were designed in the 1980s and retired from service when South Africa acquired Saab's Gripen fighter jets.

Denel said engine maintenance work for the aircraft will be handled by Turbomeca Africa, in which Denel has bought a controlling stake and is re-integrating into their business.

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