SA Shows Right Stuff above Moscow

IL Serge Pod #16.08.2001 20:58

Serge Pod


SA Shows Right Stuff above Moscow

SA`s Armscor will launch an unusual bid for international aerospace business when an SA Air Force Mirage F-1 is exhibited and flown at the annual Moscow air show starting next week.

The aircraft, piloted by Maj Johannes Joubert, made its first test flight at the Zhukovsky military aerodrome, outside Moscow, last Thursday.
Earlier, the plane had been disassembled and transported to Moscow from SA by a Russian transport aircraft. Russian officials said Thursday`s flight marked the first time a foreign-made military aircraft had ever taken off at Zhukovsky.

The air show display of the SA aircraft, which has been modified to use Russian-made engines, is also a first for a foreign aircraft.

Armscor and its Russian counterpart, the government-owned arms export agency Rosoboronexport, have already agreed to work together to market modifications of the French-built Mirage F-1, using SA know-how, western avionics, and the Klimov SMR-95 engine. The engine was originally supplied to the SA Air Force for modification of its Mirage F-1 and Cheetah fighters in 1994. SA sources differ on the reason the project was discontinued in SA.

A Moscow source told Business Day that Armscor`s hope now is it can jointly market engine and other upgrades for the Mirage aircraft still flying in air forces around the world, outside SA.

Additionally, Armscor is seeking to sell 21 surplus Mirage F-1s that have been mothballed by the SA Air Force. SA experts estimate there are ``several hundred Mirage F-1s still flying, most of them in air forces of the third world``.

The source said Moscow was backing the SA project ``because the Russians want to demonstrate the success of the technical collaboration with SA``.

``This is the first time Russian equipment has been used to modify and upgrade a western aircraft. Until this, modernisation projects have demonstrated how western equipment can upgrade Russian-built aircraft.``


AVIA.RU - Информационное агентство "Российская авиация и космонавтика"
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