The Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) intends to purchase 12 upgraded Cheetah C aircraft from South African aviation solutions provider Denel Aviation to replace its obsolete supersonic aircraft.

The contract for acquisition will also include the supply of the aircraft and a complete five-year maintenance and support package that may be renewed in case further support is required.

In April 2009, an FAE team viewed a number of former South African Air Force Cheetah C and D aircraft made available through Armscor, the state agency responsible for the disposal of retired and surplus South African National Defence Force material and equipment.

The team was informed about the operational potential and the logistic status of the Cheetah, a variant of Mirage III.

The aircraft have already been retired by the SAAF in 2008 and replaced by Saab Gripen fighter jets.

Denel Aviation, the manufacturer of the Cheetah aircraft, has been involved in the acquisition process and has observed the infrastructure and technical capability of FAE to assess support and training required.

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Maintenance and acceptance flight testing of the aircraft will be conducted in South Africa and Ecuador once the deal is finalised later in 2009.