SANDF De Brug Weapons Capability Demonstration Feb 2018
With the build up to the Armed forces day parade being held in Kimberley, the following day Wednesday the 21 February, much of the public have been getting up close and personal with both SANDF members and assets that have been put on showcase to the community who haven’t had the chance to interact with these forms of assets in this particular area with the major presence of SANDF.
On Sunday the 18th February, members of the public were able to attend the De Brug weapons demo, at the De brug weapons range outside of Bloemfontein. This also had a major impact on the public to witness live ammunition being fired in front of their faces from armored vehicles,ati-aircraft Guns and aerial support just to name a few.
On Tuesday morning 21 February ,Aviation Central had the opportunity to be flown down from Air force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria to AFB Bloemspruit situated at the Bram Fisher International Airport in the Free state town of Bloemfontein.Air force base (AFB) Bloemspruit is home to 87 Helicopter Flying school, operating the Denel Oryx Helicopter, the Agusta A109LUH and the Bk117 for training and operational duties in the South African Air force(SAAF).
We were then allocated to buses that would be taking us out to the De brug weapons range a few kilometers outside of the City of Bloemfontein. With the advantage the SANDF had the Military Police and other security squadrons escorting the buses,which onboard was members of the various media houses and Invited guests ,who got to the weapons range in no time. At this point this have many of the media who haven’t been to De Brug Weapons Range to explore the ‘Koppies’ behind the marquee that was specially put up to provide shade and refreshments.
This is also showed how big the range was compare to other bombing ranges that Aviation Central has visited in previous years.What we had been hearing and seeing on Social media from the demo a few days before we knew we were in for a treat that not many people can say they have ever witnessed in their lifetime.
The days proceedings started with a drop of pathfinders from a 44 Squadron Casa 212,the jet action started immediately with a 85 Combat Flying School Hawk Mk120 and being escorted by two 2 Squadron Gripens,both fighter assets operating out of AFB Bloemspruit.
The program then continued sticking with the fighters, when the airspace in front of the crowd, got very busy with a 2v1 dogfight,using the Hawk Mk120 as the bogey(Enemy Aircraft) and two Gripens intercepting the Hawk.
The Army engineers of the South African Army were next in line to show off the earth shattering explosions that were set off.The Air force was then overhead again, this time with Two 28 Squadron C130BZs dropping a parachute cargo drop and 64 paratroopers.
As soon as the area was clear from the Para drop and troops were brought out of the weapons zone, Ratels drove into the firing zone and engaged with small arms fire.
The battlefield was then kicked up with the roar the big guns the Olifant Mk1 Tanks and Rooikats kicking up dust from their cannon fire.
The air force was at it again, with two Agusta A109LUH performing a search and Rescue situation of a “simulated downed aircraft,”with 3 Oryx helicopters bringing troops to and from the batttlezone.At the same time Rooivalk atttack helicopters from 16 Squadron provided top cover.
Fast movers were then sent in to drop bombs ranging from the Mk81 and Mk82 bombs released from Gripen and Hawk fighter aircraft. It was also the first time seeing Gripens shooting their cannons.The usual 30mm Aden cannon from the Hawk was also put to use on the battle zone.
The two Rooivalk attack helicopters in attendance demonstrated the type of flying they sometimes do during peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, raining 20 mm cannon fire down and unleashing 70 mm rockets onto the battlefield.
The demo was slowly coming to a close, the various aircraft that took part gave fly pasts which included 4 Hawks,5 gripens,3 Oryx Helicopters,2 A109s,2 Rooivalks and a C130.The main battle tanks and armoured vehicles then proceeded to give a salute to the Chief of the SANDF in a parade.
The guests and media were then treated to a display from the Silver Falcons of team 81,led by Major Mark”Katana”Gentles.Solo displays from the Hawk Mk120,flown by Lt Col Craig”Shark”Leeson and the Gripen flown by Major Geoffrey”Spartan”Cooper released flares during the course of their displays.
The night shoot then took place just after dusk showing off from the smallest arms fire to the biggest arms fire in the SANDF,this included assault rifles, machineguns, RPGs, mortars, Ratel 90 mm rounds and Olifant tank rounds.
Rooivalks then engaged the battlefield again with 70mm rockets and 20mm gun fire. The aircraft then closed off with flares over the battlezone
Chief of the SANDF General Solly Shoke said the capability demonstration was part of normal training but was held in the run-up to Armed Forces Day to show the public what the armed forces do. “We train to be ready at all times,” he said, and added that the response from the people of Kimberley who previously came to witness the demonstration was “overwhelming”.
The next day being a early start of the Armed forces day parade in Kimberly, which saw new South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the parade.
More photos Below, click to enlarge