12 Gripen fighter jets in long-term storage is a massive indictment of the Arms Deal
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, made the astounding admission today that 12 JAS 39 Gripen Advanced Light Fighter jets, which were purchased as part of the Arms Deal more than a decade ago, and cost billions of rands in public funds, are in long-term storage.
Replying to a parliamentary question on how many Gripen fighter jets were in long-term storage, the minister replied:
"The South African Air Force (SAAF) has 12 Gripen Fighter Aircraft placed in long-term storage. These aircraft are placed in a storage as a planned activity in line with their utilization and budget expenditure patterns/flow of SAAF.
The 12 Gripen fighter jets in long-term storage are presumably vacuum-packed, like frozen chickens, in a hanger somewhere in South Africa.
The Gripen fighter jets are supposed to provide the air combat capability for the South African Air Force (SAAF).
However, the Gripen fighter jets are effectively grounded because the operating budget has been stripped to the bone and the SAAF cannot afford to operate the "Gripen system".
The sad facts about the "Gripen system" are as follows:
- 26 Gripen fighter jets were delivered;
- 10 or fewer Gripen fighter jets are operational;
- 12 Gripen fighter jets are in long-term storage;
- there are 6 qualified pilots; and
- there are about 150 flying hours available to the entire squadron ("2 Squadron") for 2013.
One of the biggest scandals of the Arms Deal is that we bought military equipment we could not afford to operate.
And there is no better illustration of the point than the Gripen fighter jets in long-term storage.
It is imperative that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, reviews the allocation of the operating funding to the "Gripen system" in the SAAF.
Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, March 12 2013
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