The South African Air Force (SAAF) has awarded a contract to Diehl BGT Defence for purging of missiles and the rental of gas filling equipment for its IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile (SRAAM).

The contract is to maintain the missile that was acquired as an interim weapon for the SAAB Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft in 2008.

The infrared-guided IRIS-T is a short-range, highly manoeuvrable, all-aspect air-to-air missile, which allows engaging any target from point-blank to the maximum range.

SAAF will have a fleet of 26 missiles by next year, before the first Denel Dynamics A-Darter fifth-generation SRAAM is delivered to the SAAF in 2013, according to DefenceWeb.