Tag Archives: SAAviationNews

COVID Aviation Trips – Rand Airport

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

In the third installment in this series we are looking at yet another smaller airport in Gauteng. Rand Airport is a great spot to feel the wind coming off aircraft and smell the turbine exhaust.

What makes Rand great is the fact that it has more than one great spots. The first of these being the SAA Museum located at the Eastern side of the airport.

The museum has many historic SAA aircraft like 737s, DC-4s and 747s where one can get the opportunity to not only admire them from the outside, but also from within.

At the museum one can also find the Dakotas Pub and Grill. From the restaurant one has a nice view of Runway 29 takeoffs and landings as well as some taxiway action.

The second spot at Rand Airport is another Harvard Cafe. Just like the one at Grand Central, this restaurant offers a nice view of the apron, with great food and a play area for children.

Rand Airport is home to many beautiful aircraft like the Flying Lions, Cows Pitts, Goodyear Eagles, Menno Parsons’ collection and many more.

P51D Mustang
Springbok Classic Beech 18
Cessna 208A Caravan ZS-NKG
SAPS Airwing Airbus H125 ZS-RNR
Boeing Stearman
Bell 222 ZS-HDK
Bell UH-1H Iroquois Serial 11162 ZS-HLZ 

This airport makes for another great outing during these times where aviation seems to be a scarcity. With the SAA Museum and Harvard Cafe one can easily get two unique trips out of this one spot.

Denel Cheetah C “375” flies again after 18 years!

October 9th 2020,after sitting on the ground for 18 years, Cheetah C “375” took to the skies again over OR Tambo international Airport in Kempton- Park this past week.

The aircraft was flown by Denel fixed wing test pilot Ivan “Viking” Pentz,who has a number of flying hours on both the Cheetah B,D,D2 and C models.He has also flown the Hawk MK120,Mirage F1,The AHRLAC and many more!

Denel Cheetah B “Bandit”

Extremely high quality restoration to flight work by Denel. After a few test flights, it’ll be boxed up and sent to Draken International in Florida as said by African Defence Review Darren Olivier.

DRAKEN INTERNATIONAL HAS CREATED A NEW STANDARD IN AVIATION SERVICE CAPABILITIES FOR ALL BRANCHES OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND ALLIED MILITARIES GLOBALLY. WITH A FLEET OF 150 TACTICAL FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, DRAKEN OWNS AND OPERATES THE WORLD’S LARGEST COMMERCIAL FLEET OF TACTICAL EX-MILITARY AIRCRAFT.

DRAKEN SUPPORTS MILITARY TRAINING OBJECTIVES AROUND THE GLOBE, PROVIDING TREMENDOUS COST SAVINGS OVER THE USE OF TRADITIONAL MILITARY FIGHTER ASSETS. AS AN ORGANIZATION, WE ARE UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO ANSWER THE GROWING DEMAND FOR CONTRACT AIR SUPPORT.

The Atlas Cheetah was a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation now known as Denel Aeronautics. It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force until the aircraft were retired from SAAF service to be replaced by the SAAB Gripen in 2008.

Pictures by Casper van Zyl

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.

Chief of The SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang Retreat Parade

A rather sad day to be at Air force Base Swartkop on the afternoon of the last day of September 2020,cuddled around a number of cumulonimbus clouds kept their distance as a final retreat parade could take place with a magnificent background as the Chief of the South African Air Force retired.  


Lieutenant General Fabian “BlackHawk” Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang,a former operational helicopter pilots on various types of SAAF Helicopters he flew during his time,including MI8,MI25,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters just to name a few.

On 28 September 2012,Msimang was appointed the new Chief of the South African Airforce as Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano retired from the SAAF.


As we all know,Covid-19 has all hit us all hard,this cancelling a number of events such as airshows in the aviation industry and most important celebrating the SAAFs centenary,with the cancellation of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2020),we could not have a 100 year celebration airshow taking into consideration of being the world’s second oldest air force after the Royal Airforce (RAF).And yes the Chief and the Deputy Chief Major General Innocent Buthelezi mentioned we are the second oldest air force in the world!

By 5pm a number of SAAF aircraft including helicopters and fixed wing assets took to the skies around the Pretoria area.Before the outgoing Chief opened the flypasts flying the Alouette III part of the South African Air force Museum.

The next elements of the flypast columns included the De Havilland Vampire T55,flown by Rama “Dynamite”Iyer and Vladimir “Spoetnik” Schultz.The Museums Aerospatiale Puma SA330 and Alouette II closely followed behind.

SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum Aerospatiale Puma & Alouette II

The big chopper formation was soon over Snake Valley led by a 16 Squadron Rooivalk Attack Helicopter,flanked by various helicopters from squadrons across South Africa,including two Lynx Mk 64 Helicopters all the way from AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town,A number of Agusta A109LUHs and Oryx Helicopters also formed part of the formation.
The former school master of the sky the Harvard formation including Two Museum Harvards and two Harvard Club aircraft were next over the podium.

Mass Helicopter Formation
Rooivalk,Lynx MK 64,Oryx & Agusta A109LUH
Mass Helicopter Formation
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)

The Lycoming formation were next with a Cessna C185,a Kudu and a Bosbok making up for the taildragger aircraft in the museum fleet.41 Squadron put on a tight formation with a leading Pilatus PC12,Two KingAirs and five Cessna 208A Caravans.

SAAF Museum Cessna C185,Kudu & Bosbok
41 Squadron Pilatus PC12
41 Squadron Formation
41 Squadron Formation

Pelican Formation was next with a 35 Squadron C47TP Turbo Dakota,while a 44 Squadron Casa 212 kept tightly behind the Daks 6 o’clock position.Open the gates its 28 Squadron with Two C130BZ Hercules Transport aircraft in formation with four Central Flying School Pilatus PC-7 MKII ab initio trainers.

35 Squadron C47TP & 44 Squadron Casa 212
35 Squadron C47TP
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs

The last flypast was the combat formation consisting of two 2 Squadron JAS39 Gripens and four Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School.The formation was led by Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper.
As the parade continued with a change of command tradition,a flag setting.

Gripen & Hawk Formation
Gripen & Hawk Formation

The South African Air Force band entertained the VIP Guests and members of the SAAF and Media. The surprise flypast of a Gripen from, behind the seated guests pitched up into the dark sky while releasing flares.Surely presented the chief with a final loud and spectacular goodbye.

Gripen Flare drop

Attending the after function,where we were kindly invited by the outgoing chief,it came time to give one final speech with tears in his eyes “he mentioned to be in an Air Force that Inspires Confidence we need to be confident in ourselves.Since I started here,I have always believed that you,each of you,are more capable.I believed and still do that you have the capacity to make this organisation into something bigger than what it was.”

We were treated to a delicious dinner and cold beverages before leaving the base,well done to all involved in making the final event for the chief a success.


We would like to wish the former chief of the South African Air force all the best for his future and a restful retirement,we’d like to take the time to thank you for making the time for us and giving us the opportunities that some didn’t have.
We thank you sir.

Video Below

Click on photo below to enlarge

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!

The SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally – 12 September 2020

by Rob Jonkers

This year we have returned again to the birth place of the Speed Rally, being the 3 rd time this event has been held here, and appropriate that our Speed Rally event during these unprecedented times has come
back to its roots, with 8 months having passed from the last one held in Witbank. Although this would have been the season finale, SAPFA had decided to extend this 2nd season up to the end of the year to also
include Springs which will be held on the 28th November, this will then at least have had 2020 with 3 events, then we can start afresh with a new season in 2021.

Once after lockdown level 3 we were granted the means to hold events, planning started for Secunda, with competitors having snapped up the open spots of 23 teams within days, given the popularity of this
event. At least under Level 2 Covid guidelines, overnighting could also be done, with arrivals and test flights on Friday the 11th , as well as the extended briefing on steroids with the race number handouts.

Our host club with Chairman Johan van Niekerk went all out to support the event, making arrangements for food on site, and contacts for accommodation, and the use of club facilities. Arrivals started coming in
from just before midday with flight tests commencing in good conditions under the guidance of Mark Clulow and Sean Cronin, the wind however started to pick up with gusty conditions, which at least settled
down in the late afternoon.

Thereafter at 18h30, Jonty Esser as the MC introduced Rob Jonkers who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turn-points, distance,
departure and arrivals protocol, and also how the scoring system would world work and the expected weather conditions.

Jonty Esser then took to the stage in his signature competing crew introductory theme song videos and race number handouts, and also including introductions to the event and team sponsors, which has
unfortunately reduced over this last period, but was great to see that some sponsors were able to maintain their support for their teams. A scrumptious braai was laid on by the club to end the evening with around
the fire stories on a high note.

For Saturday the briefing started at 08h30, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather, which turned out to be pristine conditions with very little wind.
With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, while the organisers got the papers ready. Each team would then receive an envelope with a map, turn-point photos, a minute marker and a GPS logger to
record their track. Aircraft were then also scrutineered with all portable electronic devices sealed up in bags. For this event Mark & Shane from Century Avionics were on hand to also block off / seal Aircraft
GPS and autopilot systems.

Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle and Sean were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices,handing out papers at the allotted time, and also checking the fuel tanks were full. Chief Marshall Adrian
Cronje and Starter Mark Clulow set up at the starting line adjacent the threshold of Runway 29, who would release each aircraft at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers
at 20 minutes prior take-off time, taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of brake release. 1 st take-off was at 10h10 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 10h40, with planned arrival at 11h30.

With all the competitors off towards the north west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turn points. In general the competitors found the course easy enough this time round, with the photographs now in
larger format to identify the ground features more prominently, which can be seen in the results where many had a clear round in their tracks. At just before 11h30, the first aircraft over the line was a little early,and then followed by at least three quarters of the field within 1 minute, with tail enders after that.

After all teams having returned, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, completing the individual scores by 13:30, with prize giving at 14:00. MC Jonty Esser thanked everybody in the Speed Rally series for their contributions, this was followed by Rob Jonkers showing some interesting tracks for the day.

Thereafter trophies were handed out to firstly the host club for hosting the event, their club house now sporting 3 of these trophies, the most interesting track flown which went to Hilton Wolff and Rob Osner
and the best crew spirit going to Lourence Matthee and Christo Erasmus.

The winners in the handicap category were father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK, in second place Eugene van Staden & Manaf Mubarak in their Sling ZU-IBH and in third place Leon Joubert & Sandi Goddard in their Lancair ZU-LNC. The first thirteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.

The winners in the accuracy category were again father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK, in second place also father and son Johan Whiteman & Quintin Kruger in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, and in third place Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY.

Many thanks to the Secunda Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Adrian Cronje as the Chief Marshall, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk de Vos doing the scoring, Mark Clulow & Sean Cronin doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane for Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger handing out competition papers to the crews as well as Scrutineering, Jonty & Lizelle & Sandy for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event, and the ATNS team for managing the ATC for the weekend.

Future of AHRLAC secured as Business Rescue nears completion

This is in line with the  business rescue plans adopted by affected parties in October 2019, pursuant to which Paramount Aerospace Industries acquired the businesses of ADC and its subsidiaries in terms of the relevant business rescue plans, which included the sale of the businesses and assets of ADC and its subsidiaries, as well as the assumption of certain liabilities of these entities in accordance with the respective business rescue plan.

As the Business Rescue Plans have now been adopted, the newly formed Paramount Aerospace Industries will bring new management with a wealth of aerospace engineering and aviation industry experience to the programme. The state-of-the-art factory at Wonderboom Airport has been operational for several months under Paramount’s stewardship, with manufacturing being ramped up to ensure the timeous delivery of aircraft to customers around the world. Approximately 85% of the original staff of ADC have been retained.

Paramount has provided and facilitated significant capital as part of these business rescue processes in the form of both post commencement funding, working capital, capital investment and the assumption of liabilities and loan repayments, in accordance with the provisions of the respective plans. Further capital will be injected into the business over the coming months to support both marketing initiatives and manufacturing.  

 Alison Crooks, CEO of Paramount Industrial Holdings stated: “This is great news for the future of the aircraft, for Paramount, for the South African Aerospace industry, as well as for the global aircraft market. Paramount’s decision, more than a decade ago, to fund the development of the AHRLAC aircraft was a matter of national pride and came at a time when the local aerospace industry was searching for a project that would invigorate the sector. Our passion for the country and for innovation is reflected in the direct investment of almost R1 Billion into the project. We are grateful that this strategic programme is now secured and that we can focus on a brighter future. We are delighted to have retained most of the employees who worked on the AHRLAC programme for years and to have created employment for many capable people through our efforts.”

The aircraft addresses a key global security requirement by performing missions that previously required several different aircraft. It integrates designs from helicopters, surveillance platforms and reconnaissance aircraft, with the ability to carry multiple systems, such as surveillance radar and electronic systems. 

Crooks added: “We are very excited about our new management team, made up of leading experts in aircraft engineering, industrialisation and production, who are focusing on the manufacturing of the aircraft and its delivery to customers. We have been encouraged by the global interest in the aircraft and we look forward to making further new customer announcements in the near future. We would like to thank all of our employees who have stood by us and have demonstrated that the resilience, innovative spirit and can-do mentality of South Africans is as strong as ever.” 

The aircraft is a smart, innovative ‘command centre in the sky’ that integrates some of the world’s most advanced Multi-Function-Displays, Electro Optical Systems, Electronic Intelligence gathering and compact sensors available in the world today. AHRLAC is purpose-built to be infinitely reconfigurable. This allows the application of the aircraft in multiple roles and missions in response to diverse customer requirements around the world.

The AHRLAC aircraft will be manufactured in South Africa at the state-of-the-art factory on the Paramount Aerospace Campus in Wonderboom, north of Pretoria. This facility is a vertically integrated operation that uses latest-generation machines to fabricate all airframe components and sub-systems directly from a digital model. All fabricated components are brought together with the engine and avioinics on the final assembly line which produces an aircraft ready for flight. 

In keeping with Paramount Group’s well-established portable production model, the aircraft could, depending on customer requirements, also be exported in kit format for final assembly in customer countries.

Paramount restated its committed to continue its investment in South Africa, in order to build a strong, sustainable aircraft and aerospace systems capability in the country, and this transaction supports this objective. 

U.S. donates COVID-19 protective gear to South African Health Services

The U.S. government and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) delivered approximately $340,000 in personal protective equipment to the South African National Department of Health (NDoH), August 15.  

The equipment, delivered by a U.S. Air Force C-130J, is bound for Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, where it will benefit front-line health workers.   

AFRICOM purchased the supplies, which include N-95 masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizer, using Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid Appropriation (OHDACA) funds after the South African government made a formal request for assistance to the U.S. Embassy. 

a C-130J from the United States Air Force arrived at ORTI on a special visit. She is from the Ramstein Air Base with tail number 08-8602. More info on this special visit to follow soon. These beautiful photos taken by ORTIASpotter.

The command also is supporting the set-up of handwashing stations in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, contributing $225,000 to this initiative. This brings the total value of U.S. support toward South Africa’s COVID-19 response to more than $46 million.

“U.S. Africa Command is focused on mission and the fight against COVID-19. We’ve been working in close coordination with the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide assistance where we can to the international COVID-19 response,” Lt. Gen. Kirk Smith, deputy commander, U.S. Africa Command. 

“The contributions of critical personal protective equipment and supplies help South Africa and reflect our commitment to partnership in Africa,” he said.

The U.S. has had a long-standing relationship with South Africa. This relationship includes a commitment to improving security and military cooperation to advance peace and security in the region.

a C-130J from the United States Air Force arrived at ORTI on a special visit. She is from the Ramstein Air Base with tail number 08-8602. More info on this special visit to follow soon. These beautiful photos taken by ORTIASpotter.

On the occasion of the C-130’s arrival, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks said, “We are so proud of our growing partnership with South Africa’s National Defense Forces and our cooperation to ensure peace in the region.  This delivery of lifesaving equipment, critically needed here in South Africa, shows how we can leverage the infrastructure of our strong defense cooperation to further bolster the U.S. support to South Africa’s ongoing COVID-19 response.”

Earlier this summer, AFRICOM Foreign Humanitarian Assistance funds provided 11,064 face shields earmarked for the South African Military Health Service and two additional projects provided surgical face masks and protective face shields to assist the South African Government.

The first 15 does it again!

At 14h43, Friday, 14 August, the SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron, NSRI Durban rescue swimmers and Netcare 911 rescue paramedics were activated to prepare to patient evacuate a 36 year old Indian crewman, suffering a serious injury, off a 330 meter crude oil tanker near to Port Elizabeth. A SAAF 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, accompanied by two NSRI Durban rescue swimmers and 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, departed Durban Air Force Base and arrangements were made for refuelling to take place at East London and at Port Elizabeth.

After refuelling was completed in East London, on arrival at the ship, off-shore of Algoa Bay, 2 NSRI rescue swimmers and a Netcare 911 rescue paramedic were hoisted onto the vessel accompanied by a rescue stretcher. The patient, in a serious condition, suffering a compound fracture to a leg, reportedly sustained in a fall, was taken into their care from the ships medical crew.

The patient was airlifted to a Port Elizabeth hospital in a stable but serious condition where he is recovering post operation. The SAAF Oryx helicopter refuelled at Port Elizabeth 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight and on the return route to Durban refueling took place at East London. The operation completed at 02h39 on Saturday morning.

The crew involved in the rescue was Lieutenant Colonel Zungu (Commander), Major Sandi (Co-pilot) and Flight Sergeant Vumazonke(Flight Engineer).

15 Squadron is one of the coastal helicopter squadrons based at Air Force Base Durban. It is currently a transport/utility helicopter squadron, utilizing the Oryx and A109LUH Helicopters.Their sister based Squadron “Charlie” Flight at Air force Station Port Elizabeth flying the BK117.

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