The Cheetah is back in SAAF service . . . sort of

Regular readers will be familiar with the Cheetah fighter aircraft of the South African Air Force (a Cheetah C is shown below).  I wrote about them at length in Weekend Wings #39.

The Cheetahs were retired from service in the early 2000’s, being replaced by Saab Gripen fighters.  However, according to the Atlantic, another cheetah or two (small ‘c’) has returned to SAAF service.

This week, two cheetahs attacked an officer on a South African air-force base.

The officer was not seriously injured, and was treated for minor wounds on her shoulders and the back of her head. After that, the cheetahs got back to work.

Wait, what?

The cheetahs didn’t wander onto Makhado Air Force Base by accident. They were deployed there earlier this month as part of a program started in the 1990s that places cheetahs on military bases for animal-control purposes. The big cats roam the base freely, hunting small game that might run onto airplane runways from nearby nature reserves and pose risks to flight safety.

There’s more at the link.

If that officer hadn’t tried to run, she’d have been all right, particularly because the cheetahs had been born and raised in captivity, and were used to people.  However, they’re predators, and have a natural chase instinct.  If something tries to get away from them, their response will almost always be to try to bring it down – as she found out.  She might as well have dangled pieces of raw meat in either hand while calling, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

Bet she won’t do that again in a hurry . . .



  1. I'm amazed South Africa still has the ability of powered flight. Their decline is taking longer than I expected.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *