Air Power Capability Demonstration 2018

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Air Power Capability demonstration  2018 

One of the more exciting events the SAAF invites media and VIP guests to is the Air Power Capability demonstration, this year the event was in conjunction with the Africa Aerospace and Defence show which is currently been held at Airforce Base Waterkloof in Pretoria.The purpose of the exercise is to invigorate the SAAF’s combat readiness and its role in peace support operations.

Media and guests were once again flown up to Polokwane Gateway International Airport before been transported by bus to the Roodewal Bombing Range around 40 minutes drive from Polokwane.On a arrival SAAF Fire and Rescue Services had already been fighting ranging fires in the area as well as some Oryx helicopters who were working hard with the assist of the choppers capabilities of using a “babi’ bucket to put the fires out.

A safety briefing was followed by the Chief of the South African Airforce General Fabian Zimpande “Zakes” Msimang and other military personnel,the demo started off with pathfinders who excited an Oryx Helicopter and landed in the simulated battle zone.A recce run was then carried out by a Gripen and Hawk,the Gripen continued to orbit before exciting the battle area.Two Oryx Helicopters then came in for a water drop again assisted with their bambi bucket.

Path finders exciting the Oryx

Pathfinders

Hawk and Gripen Recce run

2 Squadron JAS39C Gripen

Two Oryx Helicopters with Bambi Buckets

The sound of thunder was then echoing the skies of Roodewal with a mock dog fight between a enemy hawk and two friendly Gripens. The fighters then joined up for a friendly flypast. A single C130BZ and a CASA 212 performed a cargo drop before the return of the helicopters followed by a single A109LUH and a BK117 landed in the battle zone bringing in the first of the troops. At the same time two 16 Squadron Rooivalks provided top cover.It was unfortunately not long after that a Oryx had a hard landing resulting to the end of the exercise.The crew and troops were lucky to have light injuries from the landing.

Gripen and Hawk Formation

C130BZ Cargo drop

Agusta A109LUH

15 Squadron ‘C’ Flight BK117

16 Squadron Rooivalk

Oryx Helicopter

“The crash landing happened in front of invited guests, foreign diplomats and the media. As the aircraft hit the ground part of the tail rotor and wheel collapsed. When the helicopter came to a stop quick thinking by the crew saw the engines cut,” he said.

Colonel Eugene Motati of SAAF Corporate Communication said: “The unfortunate incident occurred and as you all know details are not clear. We can confirm the pilot was Lieutenant Colonel King, we are thankful there were no fatalities or major injuries, just a minor ankle injury to one person. You witnessed this occurrence during the trooping manoeuvre, at the moment we do not suspect mechanical failure and we don’t want to speculate further. We hope the board of enquiry will give more details and the cause of the accident.

“I want to emphasise we are happy with the reaction of the aircrew controlling the aircraft without any further damage. It could have been worse if not correctly handled. So we are proud of the performance of our airmen, they displayed excellent airmanship in that space of time, because it happened so quickly.“The crew and troops were able to extract safely from the aircraft.”

The event ended by a c130BZ dropping flares and a single Gripen passing overhead the guests going into a vertical at the same time dropping flares.A quick supper and we were off back to Polokwane and a 40 minutes flight back to Waterkloof.

C130BZ Flare drop

2 Squadron Gripen

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