Atlas Cheetah C - "Swartkop Sprinter"

Would you like to see the Cheetah C in game?
  • Yes, as a tech tree vehicle
  • Yes, as a premium vehicle
  • Yes, as an event vehicle
  • Yes, as a squadron vehicle
  • No, I would not like the Cheetah C in game.

0 voters

This excellent action shot of a Cheetah C shows the “bomber” part of “fighter-bomber” in action. The bombs released from the 110G wing tanks don’t seem particularly stable, though. It’s entirely possible that the Cheetah C carried napalm, but the full load of bombs accounted for in the photo suggests the fire in the background was caused by something else.


Introduction

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      The lion, the panther, and the cheetah are considered to be “big cats”, large predators that tend to be at the top of the food chain in their environments. In a similar manner, the IAI Kfir (Lion cub), ENEAR Pantera (Panther), and the Atlas Cheetah are the “big cats” of the Mirage III/5 family, pushing the airframe to its absolute limits. Much like in nature, while not necessarily the strongest of its brethren, the Cheetah is the sleekest and quickest, and certainly cuts an imposing figure. Because of their similarities and association to Israel, it’s worth comparing these planes to see how the Cheetah might stack up.

Feature

Cheetah C

Kfir C.10

Pantera

Year of
introduction
1993 1999 1988
Engine Atar 9K50C-11 (~7,920 kgf wet) J79-J1E (8,120 kgf wet) Atar 9K50 (7,200 kgf wet)
Empty weight 8,210 kg 8,200 kg - 8,300 kg 7,150 kg
Radar Elta EL/M-2032 Elta EL/M-2032 Elta EL/M-2001B
Radar type Fire control Fire control Ranging radar
Radar warning
receiver
Yes, Grintek RWS-300 Yes, Elisra SPS-2000 Yes, Caiquén II
Countermeasures Yes, 126 total Yes, 72 total Yes, 36 total
Missile approach
warning system
Yes, Grinell MAWS
(rear aspect)
No No
Ballistic computer Yes, CCIP/RP Yes, CCIP/RP Yes, CCIP/RP
Datalink Yes Yes No
Helmet mounted
sight
Yes Yes No
Guns 2 x DEFA 553
(280 rounds)
2 x DEFA 553
(280 rounds)
2 x DEFA 552A
(250 rounds)
Hardpoints Nine Nine Seven
Air-to-air missile
capacity
Five missiles Four missiles Two missiles
Air-to-air missile
types
V3C Darter, V3D U-Darter,
V3S Snake (Python 3),
V4 R-Darter
Python 3, Python 4,
Python 5, Derby
Shafrir II, Python 3
Bomb types American L.D.G.P.,
indigenous L.D.G.P.,
indigenous cluster
American L.D.G.P.,
Israeli cluster
American L.D.G.P.,
indigenous L.D.G.P.,
indigenous cluster,
indigenous napalm
Targeting pod Unknown if fitted LITENING Two seater only
(Israeli device)
Guided bomb
types
IAI Griffin,
indigenous LGB
IAI Griffin, Paveway IAI Griffin



      While a statistics list is never going to provide the full picture of an aircraft’s capability, it can be seen that the Cheetah competes with the best of them, only recently being eclipsed by the Kfir C.10’s Block 60 upgrade which introduced highly advanced avionics and AESA radar among many other things in the early 2010’s. Compared to the Mirage F1CZ it replaced, the Cheetah was a quantum leap forward for the defense of South Africa’s airspace. Originally I shied away from suggesting the Cheetah C as I believed it could only carry two missiles, and admittedly the limited capacity of five air-to-air missiles (four operationally, and only two of them being short-range IR) stacks up poorly compared to future threats like the F-15C with its up to eight AMRAAM, the F-18A+ with its ten AMRAAM, or the Mirage 2000-5F with its eight MICA. However, with up to five R-Darters or three R-Darters and two IR missiles the Cheetah still has competitive strength on a level similar to the Kfir C.10, and also like the Kfir C.10 it would be a great add to the top tiers of the game.



TL;DR

  • Supersonic delta wing fighter/bomber derivative of the Mirage III
  • Canards for improved low speed handling
  • Uprated Atar Plus engine gives performance comparable to the Kfir
  • Advanced ECM suite including rear aspect missile warning system
  • Healthy amount of countermeasures
  • Helmet mounded display with potent short range IR missiles
  • Long range R-Darter active radar missiles with long range pulse doppler radar
  • Air-to-air missile capacity stacks up poorly compared to expected competition
  • Relatively low fuel capacity, but can be augmented with drop tanks


This underbelly shot of Cheetah C ‘370’ shows a few features worth mentioning. Firstly, Cheetah Cs seem to have false cockpits painted on the bottom of the plane where the identifying number on the nosewheel door is found. Also, the enlarged fairing on the bottom of the aircraft seems to have about the same countermeasures capacity as the Cheetah E, but likely contains more advanced ECM systems, and the new frontal RWR antennae are visible just ahead of the intakes. Finally, the aircraft is carrying the outer two missile rails which are typically pictured with the Cheetah.


History

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      The genesis of the Cheetah is shrouded in some secrecy, generally because of clandestine Israeli involvement. What is known is that in the late 1970’s, the U.N. arms embargo against South Africa was changed from voluntary to mandatory, which threw a wrench in any plans for the SAAF to purchase new combat aircraft. Therefore, it became necessary to investigate upgrading current aircraft. Around this time, South Africa and Israel became quite close militarily and participated in joint developments including the R-Darter, and Israeli technical assistance is believed to have birthed the Kfir-like Cheetahs. To South Africa’s credit, they did conduct their own testing and designing for the aircraft. A more detailed history of the Cheetah E can be found in this suggestion post made by OsO73 which I recommend taking a look at. The basic summary is that in the 80’s, Israeli and South African cooperation produced the Cheetah E and D upgrades to Mirage IIIEZs and DZs respectively. The Cheetah C was the ultimate evolution of this project, incorporating more radical changes compared to the Cheetah E, which led to the belief that the Cheetah E was only an interim aircraft. Due to their short service life, this seems true, but is not official information.


IMG_10127456506574

This 1:50 scale South African wind tunnel model seems to be representative of the Cheetah E due to its smaller canards. The existence of the model does suggest a reasonable degree of indigenous involvement in the upgrade program, but Israeli influence is undeniable.


      While never officially confirmed, it seems that in violation of the embargo, Israel provided South Africa with spare Kfir airframes for modification into the Cheetah C as opposed to the Cheetah E which had been modified from existing Mirage IIIEZs. This is pure speculation, but it seems that the name Cheetah C was chosen to associate the aircraft with the remaining stocks of Mirage IIICZs in a similar way. However, South Africa never had enough Mirage IIICs to convert to the 38 Cheetah Cs produced, and the Cheetah inherited many features from the Kfir, so the connection is not unreasonable to draw. Overall, it’s said that South Africa footed a pretty significant bill for the Cheetah program altogether, mainly due to avionics developments.

      Compared to the Kfir, the Cheetah received a near-total overhaul of the ECM suite. The frontal radar warning receiver antennae are uniquely positioned just below the front of the intakes while the rear antennae occupy a similar tail-mounted position to the Kfir. Like the Kfir, the countermeasures dispensers are kept in a fairing underneath the engine, but the South African countermeasures fire downward and carry more than even the upgraded Kfir C.10. Unique to the Cheetah is the missile approach warning system that was briefly applied to the Cheetah E before its abrupt retirement. The antenna is a development of Grinell Avitronics (now Saab Grintek) and was also used on Mirage F1AZs. It detects incoming infrared missiles, but only covers the rear hemisphere of the aircraft. Structurally, the Cheetah C has an extended fuselage with a small “plug” added behind the cockpit for avionics, and the nose carries what is believed to be Elta’s EL/M-2032 pulse-doppler radar. The last obvious change is the use of the SNECMA Atar 9K50C-11 engine rather than the J79-GE-J1E found in the Kfir. This engine was a welcome upgrade over the Atar 09C, which was used in the Cheetah E and the Mirage IIIEZ it was made from.


Atar-Plus-Test-Team

“ATAR Plus” is scrawled on the side of Mirage F1AZ ‘233’. It was a flying testbed for a comprehensive upgrade program stemming from the ill-fated Project Carver. South African expertise in pushing the 9K50 to its limits would be applied to the Cheetah C as well as some customers abroad.


      In theory, this sounds bad, as the 9K50 is rated for 7,200 kgf thrust while the J79-GE-J1E is rated for 8,120 kgf. However, I very carefully indicated that the Cheetah C uses the Atar 9K50C-11. Supposedly, this is the South African designation for the Atar Plus engine upgrade. While developing a different aircraft, codenamed “Project Carver”, different powerplants were investigated. Since South Africa was still under embargo, they couldn’t afford to be picky. Originally, a comprehensive upgrade for the Atar 9K50 called “Atar Plus” was developed using modern technologies. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Atar Plus was a full reconstruction of the engine, pushing the Atar to its absolute limits. In the late 90’s, the Atar Plus was offered for other users of the 9K50 around the globe. Spain incorporated some of these features into their Mirage F1M aircraft, providing a mild performance increase. However, the full Atar Plus package would have increased the 9K50’s thrust by anywhere from 8-12%. With a middle-ground estimate of 10%, the Atar Plus produced 7,920 kgf thrust, which puts it much closer to the J79. Combined with aerodynamic differences between itself and the Kfir (especially the tail vent and engine fitting), the Atar Plus should put the Cheetah C on a similar level of performance.

      All this is to say that while the Cheetah was most certainly derived in some fashion from the Kfir, careful thought was put into local requirements. However, due to Israeli involvement, the Cheetah C was even more secretive than the Cheetah E, and information is subsequently hard to find. The project that birthed the Cheetah, “Project Tunny”, has no official start date, but is noted to be the most expensive undertaking of the SAAF at the time. It was secret enough that even after entering frontline service, the Cheetah C was not officially recognized as existing by the SAAF until 1994 when a photograph made it to the press. When they finally did announce the Cheetah C, it was said that it was simply so advanced that the Cheetah E was no longer necessary. By all accounts, this seems to be true.


CheetahCwith4Rdarters

Cheetah C ‘375’ sits in a hangar with four V4 R-Darter BVRAAMs slung beneath its wings. The V4 was a result of a joint program with Israel, and despite appearances it is not a direct copy of Rafael’s Derby. As the Cheetah’s operations were generally not well publicized, the fact that the Cheetah C even had four missile pylons is not common knowledge. Only the outermost two were wired for short-range IR missiles.


      Besides the structural upgrades, the weapons of the Cheetah C were quite impressive. It received a boost to ground support with the ability to carry laser-guided bombs, though it seems that it could not self-designate. Like the other Cheetahs, it had nine total hardpoints including two in the wing roots. Unlike the other Cheetahs, the Cheetah C was actually wired for five air-to-air missiles in total (which helps explain why it never adopted the Advanced Combat Wing, though that’s a different story). The outermost dedicated missile pylons are typically the only ones seen in photographs and can carry either short range IR-homing missiles or the V4. However, the next station over is also capable of carrying a V4 (but not any V3s), and reportedly the center pylon can carry one too. Because the V4 was rather expensive, typical combat loads would not take four R-Darters, and the center pylon was never cleared for operational use. Still, this meant the Cheetah C had up to four long range active radar homing missiles for air defense operations, which in combination with its pulse-doppler track-while-scan radar, allowed the Cheetah C to blast threats out of the air before they even knew they were being targeted. South Africa was also a long time user of helmet-mounted cueing systems, so naturally the Cheetah C included one, although this time it was a full on helmet-mounted display. The system enhanced target acquisition, especially in a dogfight as top tier players will know.


This Cheetah C is pictured in Ecuadorian livery. After the Cheetah’s retirement in 2008, ten Cheetah Cs and two Cheetah Ds were refurbished and purchased by the FAE. The Cheetah would be replaced in SAAF service by the Saab JAS39C Gripen. Oddly, due to South Africa’s decision to retire the R-Darter along with the Cheetah, the Gripen had no BVRAAM capability upon introduction, putting it behind the Cheetah in this regard!


      The Cheetah C was certainly an impressive aircraft (although reports regarding it as “comparable” to the F-15 might have been a little optimistic) and cemented its place as a source of pride for not just the SAAF but South Africans as a whole. Besides some initial issues with a new combustion chamber for the 9K50, the Cheetah C had a relatively quiet service life, but certainly served as an effective deterrent and defended South Africa’s skies as their frontline fighter for a decade and a half. While originally projected to serve nearly two decades, the acquisition of the JAS39C Gripen marked the slightly early retirement of the Cheetah C from SAAF service. Still, this meant that overall, Mirage IIIs and their derivatives served with the SAAF for a staggering 55 years. Even after retirement a couple of Cheetah Ds served as test aircraft for Denel, and Cheetah Cs still serve with Ecuador as well as a private firm named Draken who uses them for aggressor duties, showing the type’s robustness. The Cheetah C is emblematic of the SAAF’s uncanny ability to make the most of what they have, turning an aging airframe into a near fourth-generation jet fighter and inspiring aviation fans from South Africa and beyond.



Specifications

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Atlas Cheetah C


Dimensions:

  • Span: 8.22 m (27 ft 0 in)
  • Length: 15.80 m (51 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)
  • Wing area: 35 m2 (376.73 ft2)

Weight:

  • Empty: 8,210 kg (18,100 lb)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 16,200 kg (35,715 lb)

Propulsion: 1 x SNECMA Atar 9K50C-111

  • Dry thrust (static, sea level): ~5,500 kgf (12,125 lbf)
  • Dry thrust (optimal, sea level): ~6,655 kgf (14,672 lbf)
  • Wet thrust (static, sea level): ~7,920 kgf (17,461 lbf)
  • Wet thrust (optimal, sea level): ~11,472 kgf (25,291 lbf)

Thrust to weight ratio (static, empty, sea level):

  • 0.67 dry
  • 0.96 wet

Thrust to weight ratio (optimal, empty, sea level):

  • 0.81 dry
  • 1.40 wet

Maximum speed: 2,350 km/h (1,460 mph)

Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,774 ft)


Armament:

  • Guns:
    • 2 x DEFA 553 30mm autocannon (140 rounds/gun, 280 total)2
  • Air-to-air missiles:
    • Up to 2 x V3C Darter IR homing air-to-air missile
      • Warhead: 16 kg (35.3 lb) Torpex 2A fragmentation
      • Maximum overload: 35 Gs
      • Maximum speed: launch platform + 600 m/s (> M 2.0)
      • Minimum range: 0.3 km (0.19 miles)
      • Maximum range: 10 km (6.21 miles)
      • IRCCM: Yes, dual band
      • Guidance: IR homing
      • Lock on before launch: Yes
      • Lock on after launch: No
    • Up to 2 x V3D U-Darter IR homing air-to-air missile
      • Warhead: 17 kg (37.5 lb) HE fragmentation
      • Maximum overload: > 50 Gs
      • Maximum speed: > M 1.53
      • Minimum range: 0.3 km (0.19 miles)
      • Maximum range: 10 km (6.21 miles)
      • IRCCM: Yes, dual band
      • Guidance: IR homing
      • Lock on before launch: Yes
      • Lock on after launch: No
    • Up to 2 x V3S Snake IR-homing air-to-air missile4
      • Warhead: 11 kg (24.3 lb) HE fragmentation
      • Maximum overload: 40 Gs
      • Maximum speed: M 3.5
      • Minimum range: 0.5 km (0.31 miles)
      • Maximum range: 15 km (9.32 miles)
      • IRCCM: No
      • Guidance: IR homing
      • Lock on before launch: Yes
      • Lock on after launch: No
    • Up to 5 x V4 R-Darter active radar homing air-to-air missile5
      • Warhead: 11 kg (24.3 lb) HE fragmentation
      • Maximum overload: 50 Gs
      • Maximum speed: M 4.0
      • Maximum range: 65 km (40.39 miles)
      • ECCM: Yes
      • Guidance: Intertial via datalink or active radar homing
      • Active radar seeker maximum range: 10 - 12 km (6.21 - 7.46 mi)
      • Lock on before launch: Yes
      • Lock on after launch: Yes
  • Bombs:6
    • Up to 10 x 113.4 kg (250 lb) Mk 81 low-drag general purpose bomb
      • Warhead: 44 kg (97.0 lb) high explosive
    • Up to 10 x 120 kg (264.6 lb) Denel fragmentation bomb
      • Warhead: 27 kg (59.5 lb) RDX / TNT fragmentation
    • Up to 10 x 120 kg (264.6 lb) Denel low-drag general purpose bomb
      • Warhead: 47 kg (103.6 lb) RDX / TNT (60:40 ratio)
    • Up to (?) x 145 kg (319.7 lb) Reutech rocket-boosted fragmentation bomb7
      • Warhead: 27 kg (59.5 lb) high explosive fragmentation
    • Up to 10 x 241 kg (531.3 lb) Mk 82 low-drag general purpose bomb
      • Warhead: 89 kg (196.2 lb) high explosive
    • Up to 10 x 250 kg (551.2 lb) Denel fragmentation bomb
      • Warhead: high explosive fragmentation
    • Up to 10(?) x 466 kg (1,027.4 lb) Denel low-drag general purpose bomb8
      • Warhead: 213 kg (469.6 lb) Torpex 4B
  • Guided bombs:9
    • Up to 2(?) x 325 kg (716.5 lb) “guided booster bomb”10
      • Bomb weight (without guidance kit): 241 kg (531.3 lb)
      • Warhead: 89 kg (196.2 lb) high explosive
      • Guidance: passive radar or laser designation
    • Up to 2(?) x (?) kg ‘745’ Griffin laser-guided bomb11
      • Bomb weight (without guidance kit): 241 kg (531.3 lb)
      • Warhead: 89 kg (196.2 lb) high explosive
  • Cluster bombs:
    • Up to 2(?) x CB-470 cluster bomb12
      • Weight: 450 kg (992.1 lb)
      • Bomblets: 40
      • Bomblet weight: 6.3 kg (13.9 lb)
      • Bomblet warhead: 1.4 kg (3.1 lb) RDX / TNT
  • Drop tanks:13
    • Up to 2 x RP18R 500 liter (132.1 gallon) fixed fuel tank
    • Up to 2 x 110G 500 liter (132.1 gallon) drop tank or
      combined drop tank/bomb pylon (2 bomb shackles each)
    • Up to 1 x RP825 1,100 liter (290.6 gallon) drop tank
    • Up to 3 x RP62 1,300 liter (343.4 gallon) drop tank
    • Up to 2 x RP30 1,700 liter (449.1 gallon) drop tank

Crew: 1

Additional equipment:

  • Elta EL/M-2032 pulse-doppler planar array radar
    • Game relevant modes: Single or double target tracking, TWS, ACM (standard or HMD)14
    • Maximum range: 80 nautical miles (148.2 km)15
  • Grintek RWS-300 radar warning receiver16
    • Antennae: 4
    • Threats tracked: unknown
    • Simultaneous pulse and CW tracking: yes
    • Pulse band coverage: 0.7 GHz to 40 GHz (mid C-band through full K-band)
    • CW band coverage: 0.7 GHz to 18 GHz (mid C-band through high J-band)
    • Azimuth coverage: 360 degrees
  • Grinell Avitronics missile approach warning system17
    • Coverage: rear aspect
    • Detects IR missiles: yes
  • Grinell Avitronics SPJ-200 radar jamming system
  • 6 x countermeasures dispenser (21 countermeasures each, 126 total)
  • Datalink system
  • Denel HMD which can cue IR missiles or Derby
  • Cockpit oversized HUD
  • Martin-Baker Mk.6 ejection seat
  • Airbrakes
  • Single piece cockpit windshield with “anti-radiation” coating18

Notes

  1. Thrust for the 9K50C-11 (a.k.a. Atar Plus) was calculated by increasing the thrust of the Atar 9K50 by 10%. I used the in-game thrust curve of the Mirage F1 but corrected for channel loss compared to the static rating. I’m not sure if applying the same correction factor to static and optimal thrust is correct since I’m no aviation engineer, but these should be acceptable estimates.
  2. Since the Cheetah C is derived from Kfir airframes, it could in theory carry 140 rounds per gun instead of 125, however I don’t know if this is the case.
  3. The V3D is stated to be faster than the V3C, but minimum speed is listed as > M 1.5 in sources. Due to similarities with the Matra Magic inherent in the V3C’s design, maximum speed of the V3C and V3D can be expected to be around Mach 3 or higher.
  4. Unlike the R-Darter which is said to be similar but not identical to the Derby, the V3S Snake is generally acknowledged to just be a Python 3.
  5. Stats for the R-Darter were taken from the Derby as the two missiles are similar enough that any variance would be relatively minor.
  6. The SAAF has operated double and triple ejector racks on their Buccaneers and Canberras in the past, but I haven’t seen any Cheetahs with them so the figure given for most bombs is including four mounts on two drop tanks, four mounts across fuselage hardpoints, and two mounts on a bomb beam on the center hardpoint.
  7. This bomb is designed for toss bombing. It has a more advanced version with a different motor and flight process but I didn’t bother including it since it isn’t really game relevant anyway.
  8. This figure is based on the other bombs, but the 110G bomb tank shackles can’t handle 1,000 lb class bombs, so I’m not actually sure if the Cheetah C could carry ten or if it was eight.
  9. Information about the Cheetah C’s guided bombs is extremely scarce. It seems to be able to carry at least two, but it’s unclear if it can self-designate or not. I included this just in case it can designate or buddy lazing ever becomes a thing.
  10. I honestly have no idea what this thing is, but to my credit it doesn’t seem to have been particularly popular. It was a guided bomb kit used by the Cheetah and presumably was inferior to the Griffin (but probably cheaper.)
  11. Weight of bomb kit when applied to Mk 82 is unknown. It’s unlikely that the Griffin was used with any other bomb.
  12. I’ve seen two cluster bombs on the central pylon, but it’s entirely possible more could be carried.
  13. The fuel tanks are based on SAAF Mirage III loadouts, which seem to hold true for the photos I’ve seen of Cheetahs with drop tanks.
  14. For a full list of the EL/M-2032’s modes see the “radartutorial” source in the Sources section.
  15. In theory the range could be less than 80 nautical miles since the radar array can be downscaled to fit in smaller housings. For example, the MiG-21 LanceR upgrade has a maximum radar range of about 40 nautical miles. While the Cheetah C’s radar array doesn’t appear to have been downsized, it was worth mentioning.
  16. The actual designation of the system used on the Cheetah C is not entirely clear as the Cheetah E and D used a less advanced system. However it appears very similar to Saab Grintek’s RWS-300, so I’ve used the specifications for that. One source claims an ‘RWS-200’ was used but I haven’t been able to find any specifics on it.
  17. Actual designation unknown. This device was first used on Mirage F1AZs and Cheetah Es and does not appear to have changed significantly since its use on the older platforms.
  18. I have no idea whether this means anti-radiation as in actual cosmic radiation or if it’s supposed to be some kind of radar-absorbent coating, but I figured I’d include it anyway. The one-piece windshield will be better for simulator mode.



Gallery

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Cheetah C ‘342’ adopted a livery obviously drawing from its namesake. Apparently, it was nicknamed “Spotty” and resides in the SAAF museum at Swartkop.


Cheetah C ‘362’ is seen here in service with the FAE (Ecuadorian Air Force). Some noteworthy details include the slick-looking Cheetah C logo on the side of the cockpit, the enlarged air scoops on the plane’s roof which are seemingly identical to the Kfir’s, the flat circular RWR antennae, and the drop tanks which appear to be the same used on the Mirage III.


image

The exact make of the Cheetah C’s ECM components is generally unknown, but a good guess is Saab Grintek’s RWS-300. This photo from a brochure shows a strikingly similar flat antenna to the Cheetah C’s. The RWS-300 is a digital system with a very wide band coverage.


cheetah_07

The Cheetah C is an elusive plane, and not just because of its low-vis camouflage. Even now, the SAAF has remained rather cagey about the specifics of their retired big cat, so details tend to come from testimonials rather than official releases.


image

Two Cheetah Cs fly with one Cheetah D in the lead against the South African sunset. The Cheetah D was known to be able to designate laser guided bombs, but it required an obtuse device in the rear cockpit of the two-seater and did not allow for self-designation due to the fact that it pointed sideways.


12524332_1050327221695620_1688422361300801298_n

This Cheetah C lets loose with a V3S Snake air-to-air missile. Unlike later Kfir versions which had four missile pylons, the Cheetah C never had its inboard pylons wired for IR-guided air-to-air missiles. This puts some perspective on why South Africa bothered designing an Advanced Combat Wing with wingtip missile rails, but at the same time, they could have just wired the inboard pylons for IR missiles instead.


A Cheetah C leads a flight of two SAAF Hawk Mk.120s. The Cheetah can be seen to carry a V4 R-Darter on its outboard pylon. Due to the cost of the missile systems, for normal missions the Cheetah generally would only bother carrying two missiles, one on each outboard pylon, even though it was fully capable of carrying four R-Darters or two R-Darters plus two IR missiles.


Draken International acquired twelve Cheetah Cs to use in aggressor duties with air forces around the world. They were refurbished by Denel after years in storage. The shot here provides a good view of the special coating on the Cheetah C’s one-piece windshield.


214352-e4511a6b92ceca4cc98c938d5be24bad

This mockup of a Cheetah C’s front section, used for maintenance training, was displayed at the SAAF museum and is the best indication that it used the Elta EL/M-2032. If you look closely, you can see the dish here appears to be made from cardboard. However, the real thing most certainly does work.


29026155_1752615091466826_8090465539408789504_n

Cheetah C takeoff. The large wheels which helped strengthen the undercarriage to a max weight of 16.2 tons are visible below the wing’s trailing edge.



Sources

4 Likes

Loving all these SAAF aircraft suggestions good work

1 Like

Very nice, would be an absolutely fantastic addition to the tree.

Lovely.

+1, at this point since the ZA TT is in the UK tree, it makes little sense to go anywhere else

2 Likes

R-Darter being on the dev server is interesting as this aircraft is the only historical user of that missile. I can imagine one of three things happening:

  1. The R-Darter gets added to the existing JAS39C for South Africa
  2. The R-Darter gets added along with the Cheetah C
  3. The R-Darter will not be added, AMRAAM will be the UK’s active radar missile come June

Idle speculation isn’t going to get very far so the best we can do is wait for the next major update and see what happens. Still, that’s one major barrier to the plane’s addition down!

1 Like

This thing with the R-Darter would be amazing, +1 from me

Would the Swedish Gripen C recieve the R-Darter alongside RB99 or would it just get the RB?

we have no clue

I have no idea