Denel sells 12 Cheetah fighters to US as training jets

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Cape Town - State-owned arms manufacturer Denel has announced that it will sell 12 SA-designed supersonic Cheetah fighter jets to US-based Draken International.

According to its website, Florida-based Draken operates the largest fleet of privately owned tactical aircraft in the world.

“Draken supports military training objectives around the globe, providing tremendous cost savings over the use of traditional military fighter assets,” it states. 

Denel said the contract with Draken includes returning the dozen jets to service, local flight acceptance tests, and delivery of the aircraft to the US.

It did not say how much Draken was paying for the aircraft. 

The sale includes nine Cheetah C jets and three dual-seat Cheetah D planes.

“In addition, Denel is also pursuing post-delivery logistics support for the duration of aircraft operations,” it said in a statement. 

Cheetah 

Cheetah fighter jets were developed in South Africa in the 1980s as variants of the French Mirage III. They were retired from active duty following SA’s acquisition of its Saab Gripen fighters

Draken, in a media statement, said the 12 fighter jets would provide the US Air Force, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps “an advanced radar-equipped supersonic platform to train against”.

Sean Gustafson, vice president of Draken’s business development, said the SA planes would deliver “threat representative” advanced fighters.

“The demand for capable adversary aircraft within the DoD (Department of Defense) continues to exceed expectations and Draken is working diligently to meet that demand,” he said. 

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