Makhado: Fighter Centre of Excellence
2004 was a significant
year in the relatively short history of AFB Louis
Trichardt as it marked the 10th anniversary of South
Africa’s democracy, which was observed by the renaming
of the Base from AFB Louis Trichardt to AFB Makhado.
Makhado is the name of the Venda King that ruled in this
region of the Limpopo Province in the mid-1800s.
as a forward air base in 1987, AFB Louis Trichardt was
equipped with Cheetah E aircraft from 5 Squadron which
were phased out by the introduction of the Cheetah C in
1992. The arrival of the Cheetah D training flight in
1992 following the closing down of AFB Pietersburg,
resulted in the centralisation of all Cheetah assets at
AFB Louis Trichardt.
In addition to the
fighter force, 19 Squadron, equipped with Orxy
medium-lift helicopters, was also stationed at AFB Louis
Trichardt. In 2003, the Air Force Board assigned AFB
Louis Trichardt the status of a fighter base and the
decision was made to co-locate the Hawk and Gripen fleet
at AFB Louis Trichardt and establish a “Fighter Centre
of Excellence”. In January 2004, the Oryx fleet of 19
Squadron was moved to AFB Hoedspruit to make way for 85
Combat Flying School.
The Hawk fleet will be
assigned to 85 Combat FS as from August 2005 and the
SAAB Gripen will begin to replace the Cheetah fleet at 2
Squadron as from March 2008.