Warplanes: Cheetah Put Down

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April 8,2008: The South African Air Force has retired the last of its Cheetah jet fighters [PHOTO], with the last fourteen of them being withdrawn from service. This design was based on existing French Mirage III aircraft, which were completely rebuilt to produce a 13 ton aircraft with superior performance to the Mirage III. Why rebuild Mirage IIIs? Because during the 1970s and 80s, South Africa was under increasing international embargos because of voting restrictions. So improvisation was encouraged.

The Cheetah entered service in 1983, and 58 were built. The aircraft was armed with two 30mm automatic cannon and could carry over a ton of bombs. The Cheetah was more maneuverable than the Mirage III, and better at ground attack. Israel was believed to have helped in the development of the Cheetah, which are being replaced by Swedish JAS 39 Gripens.

 


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