The Cheetah fighters have an average of 500 hours on each airframe and are considerably younger than many of the F-16’s, F-15’s and F/A-18’s they will challenge in the Red Air capacity
Draken International announced on Dec. 11 that it has acquired twelve former South African Air Force Atlas Cheetah fighters.
The purchase consists of nine Cheetah Cs and 3 Cheetah Ds that will achieve operational status by mid-2018.
According to the company news release given that the demand for increased capacity of adversary resources continues to soar throughout U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and globally, Draken’s new Cheetah jets will provide the USAF, USN, and USMC an advanced radar-equipped supersonic platform to train against.
Draken is currently the only commercial air services provider supporting U.S. DoD with 4th generation capabilities. The company’s A-4 Skyhawks equipped with APG-66 radars, and L-159 Honey Badgers with GRIFO-L radars, have proven to be highly effective adversaries for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), Air National Guard (ANG), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and international partners. Supplementing the Draken fleet with these 4th generation Cheetahs will offer customers an extremely capable yet highly cost-effective platform. The twelve Cheetahs are complemented by Draken’s recent acquisition of 22 modernized radar-equipped Spanish Mirage F1Ms.
Noteworthy both the newly acquired Cheetahs and the Mirage F1Ms modernized in the 1990’s were selected over early model F-16s and non-upgraded Mirage F1s.
Developed as a variant of the Mirage III, the Mach 2.2 Cheetahs are equipped with radars, radar warning receivers, and other advanced avionics. The Cheetahs also have an average of 500 hours on each airframe and are considerably younger than many of the F-16’s, F-15’s and F/A-18’s they will challenge in the Red Air capacity.
Sean Gustafson, VP of Business Development at Draken stated, “Our customers within the USAF, USN, and USMC have asked Draken to evolve our capabilities in order to simulate the 4th generation adversaries the United States may have to face in the future. While our extensive fleet of A-4K Skyhawk and L-159 Honey Badgers are modernized with sophisticated radars and sensor suites, it’s a challenge to deliver modern enemy capabilities at a low price point, which is a fundamental requirement for our industry. However, with the recent purchase of our low-time Spanish Mirage F1M’s and our South African Cheetahs, we now have the ability to deliver supersonic, modernized, and truly threat representative 4th generation capabilities at a very affordable price point.”
Along with the procurement of 22 modernized Mirage F1Ms and F1Bs, the Cheetah will be offered for various contracts within the USAF, USN, USMC, and US-partnered militaries, such as the USAF massive combat air forces (CAF) Adversary Air (ADAIR) ADAIR.
Gustafson further stated, “Capacity and capability are the dominant themes for the ADAIR business driven by the contractual requirements of our customers. As the only provider of Red Air for the USAF, including the weapons school and Red Flag, Draken is committed to delivering extensive capacity in order to manage a majority of the enormous ADAIR demand throughout the entire DoD. This is why we have purchased the A-4, L-159, Mirage F1M, and now the Cheetah, the first truly 4th generation platform in the industry.”
Photo credit: NJR ZA (Own work) and Alan Wilson via Wikipedia