Denel in Ecuador aircraft deal
Cape Town - Denel Aviation has sold 12 Cheetah C supersonic fighter aircraft to Ecuador, the company said on Monday.
An agreement to conclude the deal was recently signed by Denel Aviation CEO Mike Kgobe in Ecuador's capital, Quito.
Denel Aviation is the design authority of the single-seat fighter locally developed as a variant of the Mirage III in the 1980s.
In terms of the agreement with the Ecuadorian Air Force, Denel Aviation will continue to provide a comprehensive maintenance and support service for at least five years following the sale, with an option for renewal.
"The ongoing maintenance contract reflects the global reputation of Denel Aviation to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul work to a wide range of aircraft models," Kgobe said.
"Our offer met the needs of the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) that was looking to modernise its fighter fleet," he said.
The Denel Cheetahs had been in storage since they were retired from active duty in 2008.
Denel Aviation and the South African Cheetah support industry in conjunction with the SA Air Force were directly involved in the decommissioning and packaging for storage of the aircraft and support infrastructure.
The Denel Cheetah C and D aircraft were retired from service following the acquisition by South Africa of its new fleet of Saab Gripen fighter jets under the strategic defence package acquisition programmes.
Negotiations between Denel Aviation, Armscor and the FAE had been continuing since 2009.
The aircraft were made available for sale through Armscor, the state agency responsible for the sale of surplus military products and equipment.
Complete maintenance and acceptance flight testing will be conducted in South Africa and Ecuador, now that the deal has been finalised.
"This is a huge breakthrough for Denel Aviation and it will open up a number of new opportunities for Denel and other players in the local industry involved in Cheetah support," Kgobe said.