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|A Saab MFI-17 Supporter, Radom Air Show 2007|
|First flight||26 February 1971|
|Primary users||Danish Air Force
Royal Norwegian Air Force
Pakistan Air Force
|Developed from||MFI-9 Junior|
Saab MFI-15 Safari, also known as the Saab MFI-17 Supporter, is a propeller-powered basic trainer aircraft used by several air forces.
Development and design
On 11 July 1969 Saab flew the prototype (SE-301) of a two/three-seat civil/military trainer or general utility aircraft allocated the designation Saab-MFI 15. Developed at Malmö Flygindustri, it was powered by a 119 kW Avco Lycoming IO-320-B2 flat-four engine and with a conventional low-set tailplane. The latter was later modified to a T-tail configuration to minimise damage when operating from rough airfields.
On 26 February 1971 the prototype was flown with the more powerful Avco Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 air-cooled flat-4 piston engine, which became the standard powerplant for the production version, now designated as the Saab Safari. A braced shoulder-wing monoplane with fixed tricycle landing gear, available optionally with tail-wheel landing gear, it provides side-by-side enclosed accommodation for two and has dual controls as standard. It has forward-swept wings to maintain correct centre of gravity. This design constraint applies also to the ARV Super2 and the Bölkow Bo 208 Junior, the latter a license-built version of the Malmö MFI-9 Junior.
A military version designated originally Saab-MFI 17 was flown on 6 July 1972 and differed from the Safari by being equipped more specifically for use as a military trainer, or for artillery observation or forward air control and liaison.; this version was later named Saab Supporter. In August 1978 Saab flew a prototype version of the Safari with a 157 kW Continental flat-six turbocharged engine; designated Safari TS, it did not enter production. A trainer based on the Safari's design was built in kit form for assembly in Pakistan as the Mushshak, with 92 aircraft delivered to the Pakistani Air Force. A later batch of 120 aircraft was built entirely in Pakistan.
Of the 250 fully assembled aircraft built by Saab, the majority were bought by private fliers. Including the 212 Pakistani CKD or locally built aircraft, a total of 462 versions of the Safari were produced. The Royal Norwegian Air Force purchased their Safaris in 1981. Today 16 of the aircraft are stationed at Bardufoss Air Station.
A variant with a stretched wing made of composite materials, the MFI-18, was tested during the 1980s in Sweden. Also fitted with provision for skis, this version never went into production. The supporter was also used as a highly efficient COIN aircraft, Experience with the earlier MFI 9B Minicom during the Biafran Civil War encouraged Saab to develop the Supporter as a close support aircraft carrying an assortment of underwing stores including rockets and gun pods.
- MFI-15 Safari – original civilian variant.
- MFI-17 Supporter – Saab's designation for the military variant, Danish designation T-17.
- Saab Safari TS – a prototype fitted with a 157 kW (210 hp) turbocharged piston engine.
- MFI-17 Mushshak – improved version of MFI-17 Supporter manufactured by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex under license.
- PAC Super Mushshak – upgraded Pakistan-manufactured variant of the MFI-17 Mushshak.
- Zambia Air Force – 20
- Pakistan Air Force – 149
- Syrian Air Force – 6
Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77
- Crew: 2 (pilot and student)
- Capacity: 1 passenger
- Length: 7.00 m (23 ft 0 in)
- Wingspan: 8.85 m (29 ft 0 in)
- Height: 2.60 m (8 ft 6 in)
- Wing area: 11.90 m2 (128.1 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 646 kg (1,424 lb)
- Gross weight: 1,200 kg (2,646 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 190 L (42 imp gal; 50 US gal)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 air-cooled flat-four piston engine, 150 kW (200 hp)
- Propellers: 2-bladed Hartzell HC-C2YK-4F/FC7666A-2 constant speed propeller
- Maximum speed: 236 km/h (147 mph; 127 kn) at sea level
- Cruise speed: 208 km/h (129 mph; 112 kn)
- Stall speed: 107 km/h (66 mph; 58 kn) flaps down, power off
- Never exceed speed: 365 km/h (227 mph; 197 kn)
- Endurance: 5 hr 10 min
- Service ceiling: 4,100 m (13,500 ft)
- Rate of climb: 4.10 m/s (807 ft/min)
- Take-off run to 15 m (50 ft): 385 m (1,263 ft)
- Landing run from 15 m (50 ft): 390 m (1,280 ft)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Taylor, John W. R. (1976). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00538-3.
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