Possible permanent grounding for either Gripen or Hawk coming
The SA Air Force’s (SAAF) 10% budget cut for the 2016/17 financial year coupled with the Rand’s decreasing value could mean the closure of either 2 Squadron or 35 Combat Flying School, according to a weekend report. “If it comes down to choosing between taking the Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainer or the Gripen fighter out of service the Hawk will be scrapped,” military analyst Helmoed Heitman is reported as saying by Netwerk24. The 10% decrease in the budget of the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is actually double that because replacement parts for the military jets have to be paid for in dollars, or pounds in the case of the British built Hawks. The news service said the value of the Rand had dropped by 30% against major international currencies, including the dollar and Euro over the past year. If the Hawk is withdrawn from service it will mean the SAAF has had only 10 years of service from the 24 Lead-In Fighter Trainers acquired as part of the multi-billion Rand Arms Deal. When the aircraft were acquired, spare and replacement parts were kept to an absolute minimum to keep the purchase price as low as possible.