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SA engineers, technicians deployed to US to support contractors who prepare US Air Force for combat

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It is prestigious and unique for South Africans to play such an important role in supporting the combat readiness of the US Air Force – Ivor Ichikowitz

CEO of Paramount Aerospace Brain Greyling with one of their Mirage F1 aircraft at the head office in Midrand.Picture: Jacques Naude/ANA

Pretoria – South Africa-based global aerospace and technology company, Paramount Group, celebrates 45 SA engineers and technicians deployed to the US to train and support contractors who prepare the US Air Force for air combat.

Of the 45 engineers and technicians, 11 are newly trained youth who are 90% Black.

They are part of a special team that trains and supports elite American aerospace technology companies contracted as air force squadrons who use enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat against the US Air Force.

The engineers and technicians who were recruited and trained by the company from scratch, provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services and training support for the Mirage F1 fighter fleet operated by the leading US military contractors of adversary or Red Squadron services for the US Air Force.

Since the US Air Force soldiers cannot just train against themselves as they can expect to come across unfamiliar enemies in air battle, the South African Mirage F1 team played a major role in providing its contractors with the right on-the-job training needed to engage in realistic air combat against the US Air Force.

In fact, the South Africans only just returned home to their families after being in the US since the beginning of the lockdown.

Paramount Aerospace Systems chief executive Brian Greyling said the chairperson of the entire Paramount Group, Ivor Ichikowitz, celebrated the growth and expansion of Paramount Aerospace in the US as a proud moment for South Africa.

Ichikowitz said it is prestigious and unique for South Africans to play such an important role in supporting the combat readiness of the US Air Force – a significant endorsement and recognition of the strategic skills and capability that South Africa has.

He said Paramount Aerospace prides itself for retaining the vast experience built up by the South African Air Force in Mirage F1 operations and today it is a privilege to leverage this expertise and support its partners in the US.

Greyling said: “We are excited by what we have achieved so far, including however not limited to setting up the capabilities to provide the complete Mirage F1 solution in the US, while ensuring both Mirage F1 airpower and an extensive, evolutionary depth of aircraft knowledge and support are made available on the ground.”

He said one could not believe that they would be here today because it’s like it was just yesterday when the Paramount Group acquired the entire South African Air Force (SAAF) Mirage F1AZ fleet in 2003.

It bought all the fleet along with engines, spares, simulators and training aids, with the aircraft providing an ideal solution for cost-effective, supersonic fighter capability.

It led in the modernisation of the Mirage F1M while still in Spanish Air Force military service and has since provided training and logistical support to ex-SAAF Mirage F1 aircraft exported to a number of other countries.