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2014.08.13 16:35

Chen Lee My Friends/Chen Lee2014.08.13 16:35


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DSC-RX100M2 | Not defined | 1/60sec | F/2.8 | ISO-0 | 2013:11:02 12:47:24


이름 : Chen Lee

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One of 12 former South African Air Force (SAAF) fighter aircraft, sold to Ecuador for more than R550-million, has been quarantined following an unspecified "in-flight" incident in the South American country.

On Thursday Denel Group spokesperson Sinah Phochana confirmed that a Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana (FAE) pilot was hospitalised after suffering injuries on Monday.

"Denel Aviation confirms that one of the 12 Cheetah supersonic fighter aircraft sold to the Air Force of Ecuador in 2010 experienced an in-flight incident on Monday in Taura," said Phochana.

"The FAE Ecuadorian pilot, Major Galo Álvarez, suffered light injuries and was taken to the naval hospital, where he is recovering."

She was unable to confirm Ecuadorian news reports that the pilot suffered facial injuries due to decompression in the cockpit.

Phochana said Denel test pilot Mike Weingartz, who was seated in the rear cockpit of the aircraft was, however, able to bring the aircraft safely back to Ecuador's Taura air base.

"Denel's thoughts are with Major Álvarez and his family and the company wishes him a prompt and full recovery," she said.

Denel's aviation chief executive, Mike Kgobe, has dispatched a team of investigators to probe the incident. Phochana said the team was expected to arrive in Ecuador on Thursday.

Denel Aviation had sold the 12 Cheetah C supersonic fighter aircraft to Ecuador as part of an agreement signed by Kgobe in Ecuador's capital, Quito, in December last year, said Phochana.

The $78-million package was sold to the country by Denel Aviation, the SAAF and Armscor.

"Denel Aviation [formerly Atlas Aircraft Corporation] is the design authority of the single-seat fighter that was locally developed as a variant of the [Dassault] Mirage lll in the 1980s," Phochana said.

"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."

Kgobe stated that the ongoing maintenance contract involved the provision of repairs and overhaul work to a wide range of aircraft models.

"Our offer met the needs of FAE, which was looking to modernise its fighter fleet," said Kgobe, adding that talks between Denel Aviation, Armscor and the FAE had begun in 2009.

The Denel Cheetahs had been in storage since they were retired from active duty in 2008.

"The aircraft have been made available for sale through Armscor, the state agency responsible for the sale of surplus military products and equipment," said Kgobe.

Denel Aviation and the South African Cheetah Support industry, in conjunction with the SAAF, was 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," said Kgobe.

Source: TSHWARELO ESENG MOGAKANE JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Aug 18 2011 - Mail & Guardian Online - African Eye News Service (mg.co.za)

Photo: South African company Denel Aviation has sold 12 Cheetah C supersonic fighter aircraft to Ecuador. (defpro.com)

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Seoul remains concerned over its exorbitant price increase

The Obama administration is consulting with the U.S. Congress on plans to sell to South Korea Global Hawk surveillance planes and related ground facilities, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing two sources.

South Korea has been seeking to purchase the high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle as part of efforts to bolster its defense capabilities following the two attacks by North Korea that killed 50 South Koreans last year.

In this March 24, 2010 file photo, a mockup of Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance System plane RQ-4 Global Hawk is on display at a public exhibition hall in Tokyo.(AP-Yonhap News)


“Among those briefed have been the Senate’s and House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committees, which have jurisdiction over arms sales, the people familiar with the matter said,” the report said.

“There was no immediate word on when formal notification of a proposed sale might take place, nor on the potential overall value.”

Citing Gemma Loochkartt, a spokesperson for Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the high-flying, long-endurance platform, the report said that deliveries could take place in 2014 and 2015 if a government-level deal is signed this year.

In December 2009, Seoul sent to the U.S. an official document to express its intent to purchase the drones. Although nearly two years have passed, the U.S. has yet to send Seoul the letter of agreement, a document to show its willingness to sell the drones, officials said.

“The U.S. has yet to send us the LOA as it has not yet gained parliamentary approval. It has said that it would send it to us sometime in November. But we never know whether they would actually send it by that time,” an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration told The Korea Herald, declining to be named.

“The drone is a military product, on which the U.S. has a trade restriction. Nothing can proceed unless an approval from the U.S. Congress is given for the sale.”

Reuters also reported that Northrop Grumman said Seoul is considering four Global Hawk “Block 30” as well as related ground stations. The DAPA official refused to comment on that, citing military security policies.

“We could know how many we will purchase when we begin negotiations with the U.S. But because of the exorbitant price increase, we do not even know whether to buy them or not,” the official said.

Given the long-standing military alliance between South Korea and the U.S., some experts said that the U.S. Congress might give a go-ahead for Seoul to purchase the strategic military system.

But as the U.S. has never sold the drone to countries that have shown interest in it, it remains to be seen whether Seoul can acquire the surveillance drone. Japan, Australia and Singapore have expressed interest in purchasing it.

Seoul has sought to secure the Global Hawk drone since 2005. Military officials believe the drone is necessary for the South Korean military to independently carry out surveillance operations considering that Seoul is to retake wartime operational control from Washington in December 2015.

The single-engine Global Hawk can fly at an altitude of 18 kilometers or higher for more than 30 hours. With an operational range of 3,000 kilometers, it is known to be capable of covering not only the whole North Korean region, but also parts of China and other neighboring countries. It is reported to cost $45 million per unit.

By Song Sang-ho
(sshluck@heraldm.com)

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