Russia's Promexport, South Africa's Armscor procurement agency and local company Marvotech have signed an agreement to offer combined upgrades of Dassault Mirages as part of a wider Russian/South African defence co-operation package.

In the mid-1990s South Africa re-engined a Mirage F1AZ and a Cheetah (a locally upgraded Mirage III) with modified RD33 engines, the SMR95A and SMR95B respectively, in place of the Snecma Atar 09. South Africa also integrated the Russian Vympel R-73 (AA-11) infrared guided short range air-to-air missile with the Mirage F1CZ. The Mirage F1 flew 70 times during trials with the SMR95 engine, while the Cheetah flew 10 missions to "prove the concept".

Ken Jones, marketing manager at Armscor, says the deal will allow the procurement agency, which is also responsible for selling excess equipment, to offer surplus Mirage F1s and Cheetahs with upgrade packages and long-term support.

Jones says Armscor was encouraged to restart the re-engining programming following enquiries from a number of Latin American Mirage operators.

Marvotech is marketing the upgrades and has returned an RD33 to operational condition. Sources say that it would take four to five months to return the test aircraft to airworthiness.

Russian deputy industry minister for science and technology Michael Dmitriev says other areas for potential co-operation include the establishment of overhaul and upgrade centres in South Africa for various Mikoyan aircraft.

Source: Flight International