Atlas Cheetah

CheetahAtlas Cheetah DCheetah CCheetah DAtlas Cheetah CAtlas Cheetah C/DAtlas Cheetah ECheetahsDenel Cheetah CDenel Cheetah D and E
The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation (later Denel Aviation).wikipedia
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Dassault Mirage III

Mirage IIIMirageMirages
The Cheetah was developed amid the Border War of the 1980s as a major upgrade of the French-built Dassault Mirage III fleet operated by the SAAF. During the 1980s, the SAAF's fast jet fleet consisted of multiple variants of the French-built Dassault Mirage III (EZ/CZ/BZ/DZ/D2Z/RZ/R2Z) and Mirage F1 (AZ/CZ) aircraft.
Its design proved to be relatively versatile, allowing the fighter model to have been readily adapted to serve in a variety of roles, including trainer, reconnaissance and ground-attack versions, along with several more extensive derivatives of the aircraft, including the Dassault Mirage 5, Dassault Mirage IIIV and Atlas Cheetah.

Denel Aviation

Denel Aeronautics
The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation (later Denel Aviation).
The company currently provides product support services to the Ecuadorian Air Force's fleet of Atlas Cheetah fighter jets, having been the original manufacturer as Atlas Aircraft.

Ecuadorian Air Force

Air ForceFAEAir Force of Ecuador
A number have been exported, such as to the Ecuadorian Air Force (EAF) as a source of spare parts.

Atlas Aircraft Corporation

Atlas AviationAtlas
The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation (later Denel Aviation).

Dassault Mirage 5

Mirage 5Mirage VENAER Pantera
The programme integrated technology from the Israeli-built IAI Kfir, which had been derived from the Mirage 5/IAI Nesher.
South Africa purchased five Nesher trainers for trials during its own Atlas Cheetah fighter programme.

Atlas Carver

Atlas CAVACarver
Furthermore, the development of an advanced indigenously-developed fighter, known as the Atlas Carver, was also initiated around the same time.
The South African government decided to launch a pair of domestically-conducted programmes, a short-term upgrade programme of the existing fleet of French-built Dassault Mirage III fighters, which became known as the Atlas Cheetah, while a long-term and more extensive effort to design and manufacture a virtually-clean sheet fighter aircraft, known as Project Carver.

Draken International

Perhaps the most notable export customer is the privately-owned company Draken International, who intend to use the Cheetah as an adversarial aircraft for combat training services in the United States.

IAI Kfir

KfirF-21F-21/C-2 Kfir
The programme integrated technology from the Israeli-built IAI Kfir, which had been derived from the Mirage 5/IAI Nesher.

South African Border War

Namibian War of IndependenceNamibian independenceBorder War
The Cheetah was developed amid the Border War of the 1980s as a major upgrade of the French-built Dassault Mirage III fleet operated by the SAAF.
To counter the appearance of advanced MiG-23 and Sukhoi fighters in Angola, for instance, South Africa began development on two sophisticated fighter aircraft of its own, the Atlas Cheetah and the Atlas Carver.

Dassault Mirage F1

Mirage F1Mirage F-1Mirage F.1
During the 1980s, the SAAF's fast jet fleet consisted of multiple variants of the French-built Dassault Mirage III (EZ/CZ/BZ/DZ/D2Z/RZ/R2Z) and Mirage F1 (AZ/CZ) aircraft.
In 2011, all of the remaining Ecuadorian Mirage F.1s still in service were retired after having flown more than 33,000 flight hours during their 32 years in active service; they were replaced by a squadron of Atlas Cheetah fighters bought from South Africa.

South African Air Force

SAAFAir ForceSouth African
It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force (SAAF).
Swartkop is the largest of the three museum locations, occupying at least five hangars and contains a number of Atlas Cheetahs as well as a Cheetah C flight simulator.

Canard (aeronautics)

canardcanardscanard configuration
Aerodynamic changes included the installation of non-moving canards just aft of the engine intakes, the Cheetah D & E models were fitted with slightly smaller (70%) canards than that of the Cheetah C and IAI Kfir.
These included variants of the French Dassault Mirage III, Israeli IAI Kfir and South African Atlas Cheetah.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 418

418arms embargoResolution 418
As a consequence of the arms embargo being imposed at the time under United Nations Security Council Resolution 418, South Africa was prevented from purchasing new aircraft from almost any other country in the world; accordingly, the upgrading of existing aircraft became the only viable option available.
The South African government was able to hire the services of foreign technicians, for example Israeli specialists who had worked on the Lavi fighter aircraft were recruited by Atlas Aircraft Corporation to work on the Atlas Cheetah and Atlas CAVA.

89 Combat Flying School

However, on 16 July 1986, the first Cheetah D was officially unveiled; by this point, a number of Cheetah Ds had already entered service with 89 Combat Flying School at AFB Pietersburg.
On 26 July 1986, the school began receiving the dual seat Atlas Cheetah D aircraft and started offering a Cheetah conversion course to pilots already qualified on the Atlas Impala aircraft.

5 Squadron SAAF

No. 5 Squadron SAAF55 Squadron
It remained active until 2 October 1992, when it was disbanded; its Atlas Cheetah E aircraft were also decommissioned.

R-Darter

R-Darter (missile)V4 R-Darter
In addition, it was able to carry a wide range of air-to-air weapons including the V4 R-Darter radar-guided missile and the A-Darter infrared (IR)-guided missile.
The missile armed the South African Air Force's Cheetah C fighter aircraft and was withdrawn from service when those were retired in 2008.

2 Squadron SAAF

2 SquadronNo. 2 Squadron SAAFNo. 2 Squadron
All the Cheetah Cs entered service with 2 Squadron, which was also stationed at AFB Louis Trichardt.
They later re-equipped with the Atlas Cheetah C and D, but remained 'on the books' during the hiatus between Mirage and Cheetah, not being officially disbanded at that point.

Snecma Atar

AtarATAR 101ATAR 9
Both the Cheetah D and C variants were equipped with the more powerful SNECMA Atar 9K50C-11 turbojet engine, upgraded in South Africa.

Klimov RD-33

RD-33RD-93Klimov RD-93
The former was Denel's standard systems testing aircraft, while the latter was used in the evaluation of the SMR-95 engine, a development of the Soviet-built Klimov RD-33.
The engine passed bench tests and flight tests on the Super Mirage F-1 and Super Cheetah D-2 aircraft of the South African Air Force and had achieved an improvement in flight performance and combat efficiency by a factor ranging from 1.2 to 3.0.

Fighter aircraft

fighterfightersjet fighter
The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation (later Denel Aviation). All three models were inducted into the SAAF, functioning for a time as the service's most capable fighter and strike aircraft.

France

FrenchFRAFrench Republic
The Cheetah was developed amid the Border War of the 1980s as a major upgrade of the French-built Dassault Mirage III fleet operated by the SAAF. During the 1980s, the SAAF's fast jet fleet consisted of multiple variants of the French-built Dassault Mirage III (EZ/CZ/BZ/DZ/D2Z/RZ/R2Z) and Mirage F1 (AZ/CZ) aircraft.

Israel

State of IsraelIsraeliISR
The programme integrated technology from the Israeli-built IAI Kfir, which had been derived from the Mirage 5/IAI Nesher.

IAI Nesher

IAI DaggerDaggerNesher
The programme integrated technology from the Israeli-built IAI Kfir, which had been derived from the Mirage 5/IAI Nesher.

Strike fighter

fighter-bomberfighter bomberstrike
All three models were inducted into the SAAF, functioning for a time as the service's most capable fighter and strike aircraft.

Aerial reconnaissance

reconnaissancephoto-reconnaissanceair reconnaissance
Furthermore, a single Cheetah R, intended for aerial reconnaissance, was built as a prototype, but this variant never entered service.