First Gripen takes to streets

2006-07-16 18:24

Cape Town - The first of South Africa's fleet of 28 Gripen aircraft for the SA National Defence Force was to be towed through Cape Town to Ysterplaat air force base from Cape Town Harbour on Sunday afternoon.

"Once at Ysterplaat, the Gripen will be prepared for its ferry flight to the SA Air Force's test flight and development centre at Overberg air force base, near Bredasdorp, where it will be based," said the Swedish company Saab, which made the aircraft.

The first Gripen to bear South African livery, it was unveiled by Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin after coming off the Saab production line in October.

Based in Bredasdorp

It is due to take part in the aerospace and defence show at Ysterplaat in September.

Stehen Laufer of Saab SA told SABC radio news the Gripens would be part of a flight test programme at Bredasdorp as a precursor to going into service with the air force between 2008 and 2011.

The fleet is part of the multimillion-rand strategic defence procurement programme.