Tag Archives: Aviation Central

Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) upgrades continue for US Guard, reserve and active-duty fighters

BALTIMORE – Oct. 15, 2020 – The U.S. Air Force has met Full Operational Capability (FOC) readiness for Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) AN/APG-83 SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on Air National Guard F-16s to meet a U.S. Northern Command Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) for homeland defense.

On Sept. 7, the U.S. Air Force began installation of APG-83 radars on Air National Guard F-16s at Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the fourth U.S. Air Force base to receive AN/APG-83 SABR AESA radar upgrades.

Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-83 radar being installed in an Air National Guard F-16 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/released)

The radar upgrade of Air National Guard F-16s extends the operational viability and reliability of the fleet while providing pilots with 5th-generation fighter radar capabilities to defend our nation’s airspace.

“SABR enables F-16 pilots to detect, track, identify and target a greater number of threats faster and at longer ranges from outside the threat envelope,” said Mark Rossi, director, SABR programs, Northrop Grumman. “This upgrade will keep the multirole F-16 fighter relevant and capable for decades to come.”

The AN/APG-83 features all-weather, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping to present the pilot with a large surface image for more precise target identification and strike compared to legacy systems. Its design incorporates proven hardware and advanced operating modes from Northrop Grumman’s fifth-generation F-35 and F-22 AESA radars. The high degree of commonality and shared manufacturing processes and infrastructure drives efficiencies and affordability improvements across all of Northrop Grumman’s AESA radar programs.

The AN/APG-83 AESA is now an official program of record for both the active and reserve U.S. Air Force as well as the Guard after the service procured units in February for Air Combat Command and Air Force Reserve F-16 aircraft.

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon from Kelly Field, Texas

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Joe Ford joins Draken International as Chief Executive Officer

Las Vegas, NV – The Board of Directors of Draken International, LLC has elected Joseph “Joe”Ford as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Ford will also serve as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.


Ford previously served as President, DynAviation at DynCorp International. At DynAviation, Ford was responsible for all aspects of the segment’s profit and loss performance with functions including operations, supply chain management, finance, quality assurance, human resources, contracts and internal and external business development.


Ford will succeed Jared Isaacman who has served as Draken’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer since 2011. Isaacman will become the non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and will assist Ford through the transition.

Mirage F1B


“During a period of tremendous growth for our company and the commercial adversary air industry, there is no better person to lead Draken International,” stated Isaacman. “After serving
his country with distinction for 25 years and growing defense companies that support the U.S. military, Joe has the leadership, strategic vision and record of execution to fly Draken to new heights. His insight for how to apply modernization to our comprehensive fleet of fighters will prove beneficial and is exactly what Draken needs as the company enters its next
chapter of expanded growth.”


“I am beyond thrilled to join the Draken family,” stated Ford. “I understand the need to provide the U.S. military aviation community with the readiness it needs while making every taxpayer dollar go further. Draken is the best in the business and I am honored to have Jared and the Board’s support as we remain focused on supporting our nation’s military aviators every day.”
Before his career in the private sector, Ford had a distinguished military career, retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in January of 2007 as the commander of the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Other roles during his military career include commander of the
18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan and commander of the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Mr. Ford is a combat veteran with four fighter deployments to
the Middle East. His aviation career includes over 4,000 hours in aircraft including the F-4C/D,A-7D, F- 117, F-16A/B/C/D, F-15C/D, HH-60, E-3 and KC-135R.

Aero L159s


“Draken is the kind of mission driven company with which we like to partner,” said Todd Hirsch, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and a member of the company’s board. “A decade ago, Draken was an idea – that commercial adversary air support
can improve readiness and reduce sustainment and training costs for the U.S. Armed Forces.


Today, Draken is the industry’s leading provider of military aviation readiness training,completing over 20,000 flight hours with a fleet of more than 100 mission capable aircraft.

Ex South African Air force 2 Squadron Cheetah C (375) recently took to the skies after 18 years on the ground 2 weeks ago at Denel Aeronautics base at OR Tambo International Airport,South Africa.This will also be one of Drakens assets!Picture by Casper van Zyl

Under Joe’s leadership, it will continue to set the standard in airborne adversary support, flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, research, testing, as well as other missions
uniquely suited to their fleet of aircraft.” Hirsch continued: “On behalf of the rest of the board and all our employees, we thank Jared for

creating this industry leading firm and guiding it so well. We are grateful to continue to have him as a partner.”

Mirage F1M


The board also elected Bill “Sweet” Tart as Chief Operating Officer. Sweet joins Draken from DynAviation where he was Senior Vice President, Business Development. Prior to his private sector career, Sweet served in the United States Air Force for 25 years, retiring in 2014 as the Director of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Division at the Pentagon. He previously served as the commander of the 432nd Operations/Expeditionary Operations Group at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada and the senior military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Sweet is a Risner Trophy winner for outstanding performance at USAF Weapons
School.

Ex South African Air force Cheetah C serial (370) “Vlaggie” one of twelve Cheetahs that have been sold to Draken International from Denel Aeronautics.
Dassualt Mirage F1B, recently Draken got a handful of ex Mirage F1s from various air forces around the world that recently retired them for use.

Draken International is the world’s largest operator of ex-military aircraft. With over 100 tactical fighter aircraft incorporating modern 4th generation capabilities, the company is the partner of choice to support the growing global demand for commercial air services. Draken
employs world class, military trained fighter pilots including USAF Weapons School Instructors,Fighter Weapons School Graduates, TOP GUN Instructors, Air Liaison Officers, and FAC-A Instructors. In 2019, funds affiliated with Blackstone Tactical Opportunities completed a strategic investment into Draken International to facilitate the next phase of modernization and growth. 

Aero Club Celebrates a Centenary of Recreational Flight

By Rob Jonkers

There is a sense of achievement on reaching a Century, on all manner of occasions it calls for a celebration, subject for congratulations on the significance and justifiable pride, the past century of the existence of the Aero Club of South Africa has been integral in seeing the growth in Recreational Aviation, the collective of the various disciplines
that make up flying for fun, that have allowed the freedom of development in the achievement of products, ideas, adventures, competitions that are existential of this magical world that is recreational flight.

This journey has been long, sometimes tedious and difficult but the persistence and passion of our members across the century has made it possible for the Aero Club to be the success it is today. One of the many great benefits and joys of living since the 20th Century is that we have had the immeasurable privilege to be able to fly, as since the dawn of mankind we have aspired to the ease and freedom of flight that only birds could enjoy, and from those early 20th Century years mankind learned to fly!

On the 10 th October 2020, after many months after postponement since C-19 made us all go into hiding, the Aero Club’s official Centenary Balloon Launch took place at Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safaris in the Magalies Valley. The weather outlook also looked great, and the launch event was a go sent out by the organisers just after 5 am. The wind started picking up somewhat, and first off the ground were the three commercial balloons that occurred at 6am, thereafter the Aero Club Balloon which was rebuilt in Aero Club Centenary colours (carrying the registration ZS- HOI as the ex Capital Radio balloon) was unfurled and prepared for a tethered inflation and launch.

Chairman of BAFSA Richard Bovell who was also this Centenary event organiser was the first pilot supported by student pilot Sema Mathebula, got the balloon off the ground in somewhat gusty conditions, the wind at that stage would not have been favourable to actually fly. Hanke Fourie took over from Richard for a second tethered stint, giving a good photographic opportunity for the guests in attendance.

After the balloon landed and was furled up again, the guests were treated to a scrumptious breakfast, as only one can experience as an early morning African sunrise breakfast in the bush. As MC for the event Richard Bovell gave a short speech on a brief history of sport ballooning in South Africa, thanked the guests for their attendance, and handed over the very first Aero Club Centenary Yearbook which is hot off the presses to the Doyen of Ballooning in South Africa Terry Adams, who since his arrival in SA in 1976 established the mainstay of balloon manufacturing
and pilot training in SA.

Thereafter Rob Jonkers as the Chair of the Aero Club thanked BAFSA and their team of hosting this one of a kind event, and the only event marking the Aero Club’s Centenary that will take place in 2020. A ceremonial Centenary cake cutting was then carried out by the Aero Club’s Executive Committee, Rob Jonkers (Chairman), Marthinus Potgieter (Vice-Chairman), John Gaillard (Hon Treasurer) and Hanke Fourie (Exco Member).

Although the year 2020 will go down in history as a great disrupter and has essentially rained on our Centenary parade, we will be looking at recovering much of the planned events in 2021 as time and resources will allow to bring justice to our 100 year heritage, especially poignant is to hold a 100 aircraft of all types flypast ( 101 also looks like a good number…) and an all Recreational Aviation Airweek as was initially planned for this year at Middelburg.

The Centenary coffee table book, which is now available for sale (details on the Aero Club website), is a compendium of each of our flying disciplines, historic and contemporary with numerous personalities with some
remarkable stories in recreational flying as a celebration for this signature Centenary Year.

Bell aircraft used to safeguard food and agriculture amid historic locust infestation

In the last 12 months, food security has been under serious threat from devastating swarms of locusts, destroying crops from East Africa to the Arabian Gulf. With experts warning of a “rolling emergency” 1 that could endanger harvests across the regions for the rest of the year, governments and international organizations face a herculean challenge in controlling the infestations. Aircraft from Bell, the U.S.-based helicopter manufacturer, have been playing a key role in the joint efforts to fight this ancient plague.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), desert locusts – whose destructive infestations cause major crop damage – are a species of grasshopper that live largely solitary lives until a combination of conditions promotes breeding and leads them to form massive swarms.

The region’s current crisis began in October 2019 as swarms formed along the Red Sea coastal plains in Yemen Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Sudan, spreading eastwards across the Arabian peninsula and further south in Africa in the following months.

By January, Kenya, one of the countries hardest hit by the crisis, was already experiencing its worst outbreak of desert locusts in 70 years. To target this problem, authorities contracted South African helicopter operator BAC Helicopters, who had recently purchased three Bell 206L-4 helicopters, to carry out the Emergency Desert Locust Survey and Control operation in an effected part of Kenya.

The helicopters were tasked with surveying vast areas throughout the Marsabit and Turkana counties in Northern Kenya, locating and mapping the locust swarms which were threatening food security through the region. The 206L-4’s were each equipped with specialized Agricultural
Survey Equipment, an FDC Barrier Filter and Satellite Tracking System. Essential data gathered by the survey helicopters was then transferred to both fixed wing and helicopter spraying aircraft, allowing them to accurately target specific areas where the locust swarms were present.

Sameer Rehman, Managing Director of Africa and the Middle East, Bell, commented: “With a number of countries in eastern Africa and some parts of the Middle East at ongoing risk, the FAO has estimated that a locust control plan would cost $76 million to secure agriculture in the
affected region. Bell understands the need to protect the food source of these regions and we’re pleased our products can be essential tools in the collective mission to eradicate the problem.

“When it comes to food security, the stakes are very high so the reliability and capability of every tool used in the fight against locust swarms is paramount. The Bell 206, and newer light aircraft like the Bell 505 have shown time and again that they can be trusted to operate in high
temperatures and with heavy payloads, providing a capable defense wherever the swarms may be present.”

Bell 505

In most years, desert locust swarms tend to die out during dry season. However, with unusually high rainfall in 2020 in certain regions, the exponential growth in the populations has not abated,
creating the specter of further swarms over the coming months.
The FAO states that countries most affected by the locust situation are Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia in Africa as well as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and parts of the UAE and Oman in the Middle East.

Retirement Of SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang

On Wednesday 30 September,members of the South African Air force and members of the media got to witness a series of beautiful flypasts from a number of aircraft of squadrons based across South Africa.A fitting tribute and thank you to the former Chief of the South African Air force!

Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang integrated into the South African National Defence Force in 1994 after the first Democratic Elections as a qualified helicopter pilot.He received his flying training at Frunze 1 Central Officers Training Center – Kirghistan, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics between 1986 to 1991.

He graduated from the institution with a diploma in Command and Tactics of Military Aviation.During Msimang’s Career he has flown the Mi8, Mi25 ,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters.He also completed a factory conversion onto the Agusta A109E Helicopter at Agusta/Westland now known at Leonardo in Italy.

Mil Mi8
MIL MI25
Alouette III
Agusta A109LUH

He was a member of the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK),the military wing of the African National Congress.He engaged in combat in Angola in 1986.In 1994,he completed the Air force Junior Staff Course in Zimbabwe before returning to the South African National Defence Force.Post 1994,he served as an operational pilot in both maritime and inland operations.

In 2000,Msimang was appointed the assistant project officer on the acquisition programme of the Agusta A109LUH in Italy.He went onto successfully complete the Senior Staff Course at the Italian Air force War School.On his return in 2003 from Italy,he was appointed the Officer Commanding of 87 Helicopter Flying School at Air force Base Bloemspruit. The Following year he successfully completed the Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme at the South African National War College.

First South African Air force Agusta A109 In Italy
Oryx Helicopter

In 2005,he was appointed officer commander of Air force Base Bloemspruit and promoted to the rank of Colonel.In 2006,he completed the Executive National Security Programme at the South African National Defence College.In 2007,Msimang,after a two and half year tour as OC at Air force Base Bloemspruit,he was appointed Director Helicopter Systems and Promoted to the rank of Brigadier General at Air Command.

Eldorado Park Aviation Expo 2017 with Gripen display Pilot Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper

In November 2010,he was appointed Chief Director Air Policy and Plans and then promoted to the rank of Major General,responsible for Air force Strategy,policies,capabilities and resource allocation.On 28 September 2012 he was accepted command as the Chief of the South African Air force from Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano.

Bell APT 70 Successfully Completes NASA’s Systems Integration and

Fort Worth, Texas (1 October, 2020) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today the successful flight of the Bell Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 as part of a joint
flight demonstration with NASA. Bell was selected to participate in NASA’s Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) activity in 2018, which includes multiple flight demonstrations focusing on
different types of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and their flight environments.


The objective of Bell’s SIO demonstration was to execute a Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) mission in an urban environment transitioning into and out of Class B airspace representing future commercial
flights. Mission results will be used to evaluate and demonstrate Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) technologies for use in future certified operations in controlled and uncontrolled
airspace. Data collected during the demonstration will be used to support future standards development and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification guidelines.


“This successful demonstration highlights the great potential for the APT 70 to complete complex
missions for businesses and healthcare providers,” said Michael Thacker, executive vice president,
Innovation and Commercial Business. “With teammates like NASA, we can carve a path forward for future commercial operations to solve the cargo and goods transportation challenges our world currently faces.”
Launching from Bell’s Floyd Carlson field in Fort Worth, TX, the APT 70 flew a preprogrammed 10-mile circuit path along the Trinity River. Once armed from the ground control station, the APT 70 initiated a
vertical takeoff.

The vehicle then rotated to fly on its wings where it became nearly silent to the ground below. The vehicle executed its mission profile at an altitude of 500 feet above ground level. The route
included a road crossing and transition in and out of Class B airspace. Communication between the ground station and the aircraft was maintained through a redundant datalink. A prototype airborne detect
and avoid system, along with visual observers, provided the remote pilot with awareness of air traffic in
the vicinity and recommended flight maneuvers.

NASA is excited to partner with Bell to help accelerate routine UAS operations into the national airspace
with this successful flight demo,” said Mauricio Rivas, UAS integration in the NAS project manager at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. “Our efforts with Bell and our other SIO industry partners will
help commercial UAS move closer towards certification to make missions like this transport flight a
common event.”

Bell’s technology partners for the demonstration include Xwing and the University of Massachusetts
Amherst’s Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). Integrated onto the APT
70 is Xwing’s airborne, multi-sensing detect and avoid system. Xwing’s system comprises of radars, ADS- B, visual system and onboard processing to provide aircraft tracks and pilot alerts transmitted to the
ground station. The APT 70 also includes CASA’s intuitive, integrated display to provide pilots with local weather risk awareness and route-based weather alerts issued by their City Warn Hazard Notification
System deployed in the DFW metroplex.


It is envisioned that in the future, an operational APT 70 could provide efficient, rapid and dependable transport for payloads up to 70lbs. The APT 70 is estimated to move three times as fast as ground transportation. The vehicle is capable of autonomous flight, automatically flying a programmed flight route and handling an array of contingency functions. Potential uses for the APT 70 include medical deliveries,
third-party logistics, offshore delivery, humanitarian relief and many more.

Heritage Day Celebrations at AFB Ysterplaat

By Rayno Snyman

There was a buzz in the air, excitement of the unknown. We had no idea what was in store for us and what a Heritage Day it was on Thursday 24 September 2020.

We were then greeted by officer commanding Airforce Base Ysterplaat Colonel C. Moatshe. Later in the day the out going chief of the Airforce Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang, who earlier had a flight in a Pilatus PC7MkII not far up the road at AFB Langebaanweg, home of the Silver Falcons Aerobatic Team.

Westland Wasp
Alouette III
T6 Harvard
C47 Dakota
Piaggio Albatross

Airforce base Ysterplaat, which hasn’t seen an Airshow since 2011.Members of the South African Air Force, Media and friends of the South African Air Force Museum Cape Town Branch got to see some of the pristine Museum aircraft on static display as well as flying units based at Ysterplaat, such as 22 Squadron a helicopter unit and 35 Sqaudron a Maritime Patrol aircraft unit.

Visiting CASA 212 from 44 Squadron

It was a privilege to witness the amazing aircraft that have crossed paths in our Airforce as 2020 the SAAF celebrated their Centenary. From fast jets to helicopters and the mighty Shackleton. What a treat it was. The Shackleton was the highlight of the day for us, those Griffon engines sent vibrations right to our cores, not to mention the fly by the C-47TP to perfectly commemorate the Shackleton’s own heritage.

Avro Shackleton
Avro Shackleton
Avro Shackleton
35 Squadron C4TP

Heritage Day was perfectly celebrated at AFB Ysterplaat as it was fantastic to see our servicemen and women, young and old, active and retired from all different backgrounds, heritages and cultures coming together to celebrate this special day.  We had the honour to receive a narrated tour of the Shackleton by Mr Ashbury a former 35 Squadron unit member, who could not share the history of this aircraft and his experience with more passion, even if he tried.

Super Frelon
Avro Shackleton
Avro Shackleton Cockpit
F86 Sabre
Buccaneer
Impala MKI
Mirage F1CZ
Mirage IIIRZ

Many familar faces were seen and much was learned to appreciate the effort and training of everyone at SAAF, not only pilots but the engineers, ground crew, specialists and all involved who all play a vital role in keeping us safe.

22 Squadron Oryx Helicopters
22 squadron Lynx Mk 64

We cannot wait for next year and hope to see more of the Shackleton ground runs and maybe even a Airshow again.

22 squadron Lynx Mk 64 flypast

Cuban South African Airforce Graduates

by Lt Gen F.Z. Msimang, Chief of the South African Air Force

Life is indeed cyclical. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s a young soldier by the name Zakes Khulu along with his comrades found themselves in a foreign country pursuing aviation studies. They learned all they could in that country, immersing themselves in its culture, its ways of life. They would eventually return home with their newly acquired skills, eager to start collaborating in establishing a new democracy. Looking back at their journey in many ways mirrors your own. You too were deployed to a foreign country to learn, to grow, to improve and be immersed in a culture engendered with liberation so that when you returned, which you have now done, you will continue the democracy building project. That Zakes Khulu with some of those surviving comrades, stand before you now beaming with pride for your extraordinary achievements, watching you ride the waves of endless possibilities. We are extremely proud of you all.

We are here, today, under strict Covid-19 regulations, which we must observe and respect accordingly, to welcome all of you on parade and your proud families, loved ones and friends to this auspicious and memorable occasion. We are here to honour a group of military aviators who trained in the Republic of Cuba; we welcome them home to their esteemed SAAF flying community. 

Graduates, you have touched my heart. You have carried yourselves with exceptional grace and honour. You kept your promise to me. You have brought home commendable results but know this road still unfolds before your feet. Baba Mandela – the Father of our Nation – once said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This parade marks one of the many summits you will have to reach in your long careers in the SANDF.

But as your achievements belong to you they belong also to your unwavering support structures. It was a community project. This journey would have been impossible without the commitment and dedication of your instructors, your mentors and of cause – the support of your proud parents, family members and loved ones. A special word of thank you to all the SAAF members who helped you work through obstacles, while you tenaciously invited the universe to mold you into fine soldiers. 

Our unbreakable bonds between the Cubas and our government can be traced to its support of African liberation movements, following the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by “The Movement,” formed by late longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuba supported the anti-apartheid struggle in this country opposing racial segregation when it was not fashionable to do so. It criticised the international community for blatantly ignoring South Africa’s human rights’ violations – the very rights that many are taking for granted in this country today. 

When the democratic South African National Defence Force entered into bilateral agreements with The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to create study opportunities for our soldiers,  the South African Air Force (SAAF)  embraced this opportunity with open arms.

We identified disciplined young men and women to undergo training in Cuba, where they would be immersed in a different culture, social structure, and political landscape. In 2014, we sent twenty-seven candidates to undergo various training specialties in aviation engineering, air traffic control and pilot training fields. They stand before us now: a result of a bond based on shared revolutionary principles. 

I kept an eagle eye on your developments in Cuba. I was pleased to learn that you turned every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Your results speak for themselves. You received golden awards for both academia and sports. You even experienced the devastating hurricane Irma and used that difficult time to learn major survival skills. Your stay in Cuba also coincided with the mourning of the passing of one the world’s finest revolutionaries Fidel Castro, his message of resistance to oppression resounding strong. Cuba provided you with immense lessons in patriotism, survival and determination. May these lessons nourish you.

Additional  SAAF students commenced with their aviation training in Cuba in 2018 and 2019. We are expecting more graduates in 2021, 2022 amd 2026. Extending the SAAF training scope to various foreign countries will ultimately bring about a generation of differently trained individuals who if nurtured and allowed to plough back their knowledge, will enhance our outlook as part of the global community.

And as we reach our close, I must stress that the knowledge you have acquired is crucial in meeting our Constitutional mandate and requirements. Our constitution states that “the Defence Force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force”. As a soldier, for me, the success of the SAAF will be underpinned by an enforcement of discipline and the concentration on functional, developmental and physical training. May we be soldiers who live in integrity: for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. You have answered our Nation’sd call – Which is Service, and Country. May you grow to be airmen with integrity,…… for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. 

As proud and devoted members of the SANDF, we must have  an eagle’s eye view on any challenge and hover above  it menacingly, in the knowledge that our citizenry expects nothing less  than a deep sense of security from us.

The Chief of the SAAF concluded his speech below:

TO THE MEMBERS ON PARADE, I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. YOU ARE OUR FUTURE LEADERS.  GO OUT THERE AND SERVE THE NATION.   THE AIR FORCE COMMAND COUNCIL WILL CERTAINLY BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREERS WITH INTEREST – CONTINUE WITH THE HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THUS FAR.

MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED. 

I THANK YOU.

Aero L39s of the Cuban Airforce were used as ab-intio trainers for South African Air Force pupil pilots!

Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers set new WORLD RECORD for range & duration of non-stop flight

 pair of Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers have spent more than 25 hours in the air and covered over 20,000km, setting a new world record for non-stop flight range, and duration, for this type of aircraft, it has been revealed.

The Defense Ministry, in Moscow, made the announcement on Saturday with Sergey Kobylash, the commander of Russia’s long-range aviation service, saying that “nobody has flown this type of aircraft longer.” 

The record, which was set on Saturday, saw two Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers (NATO reporting name ‘Blackjack’) “staying in the air for more than 25 hours and covering a distance of over 20,000km (12,427 miles),” the commander added. 

The landmark flight took place above the neutral waters of the Arctic and Pacific oceans as well as the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Chukchi and Barents seas, and was performed in full compliance with international rules governing use of airspace, he pointed out. 

The Tu-160s refueled three times in the air during their mission, which required six Il-78 tanker planes to be mobilised. At some points along their route, the bombers were escorted by Russian Su-35 fighter jets as well as “aircraft of foreign states,” Kobylash said. 

The previous record was also set by Tu-160s, which spent 24 hours and 24 minutes in the air back in 2010. In the case of passenger aircraft, a Qantas Airlines flight from New York to Sydney last year is considered to be the longest, as it saw a Boeing 787-9 with 49 people on board staying the air for 19 hours and 15 minutes, covering a distance of 16,200km (around 10,066 miles).

TU-160s Visit South Africa last October!

Last year October a pair of TU-160s traveled to South Africa landing at Air force Base Waterkloof, City of Tshwane. This was the first time this type of aircraft had landed on African soil for the first time.

On-route to South Africa_Air to Air Refueling from an IL78 Tanker
Drogue shoot release after landing at Air force Base Waterkloof
Not soemthing you see at Waterkloof everyday, 2 TU-160S,An124 & IL62

First Brazilian Saab Gripen E Arrives in Brazil

The first Brazilian Saab Gripen E single-seat fighter aircraft has arrived in Brazil on Sunday, September 20, Saab announced.

The aircraft arrived through sea after been shipped from Norrköping in Sweden.

The first Brazilian Gripen is a test aircraft (39-6001, tail number FAB4100) and has been flying in Sweden since its maiden flight on August 26, 2019. In September that year, the aircraft arrived to start the flight test programme for flight envelope expansion as well as testing of tactical system and sensors.

Brazil has ordered 28 Gripen E single-seat jets that will be delivered to Brazil starting from 2021 and eight Gripen F twin-seat jets, starting from 2023. Saab is to building first 13 aircraft at its facility in Linköping, Sweden, while the remaining 23 will be built in Brazil.

Earlier this year, Saab  performed the fist metal cut for the first Brazilian Gripen F, marking an important milestone in the program. The first part was manufactured recently at Saab’s facilities in Linköping, Sweden and is for the air duct section, just behind the cockpit of the aircraft.

Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM) in Brazil, Saab’s first aerostructures plant outside of Sweden for the Gripen E/F, has recently announced the start of production in support of the program. This site builds sections of Gripen, which will then be delivered to the final assembly facilities at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, Brazil and to Linköping, Sweden.

The tail cone and front fuselage of the single-seat version of the Gripen fighter (Gripen E) are the first aerostructures to enter into production at SAM. Subsequently, the aerodynamic brakes, rear fuselage, wing box and front fuselage for the two-seater version will also be manufactured at SAM.

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