defence Web correspondent Dean Wingrin
Chief of the SA Air Force (CAF) says the service may have to
wait another four years before receiving its Airbus A400M
Government in 2004 contracted with the European plane maker
to receive eight of the medium transports from next year.
But programme delays and trouble with the prescribed power
plant has left the A400M programme seriously overtime and
likely over budget.
Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano Friday told a wet Air Force Day Parade
the “delay may oblige the SAAF to reconsider its perceptions
about the future of the C-130 aircraft. The prognosis with
regard to the future of their airframes and wings is
Reuters, meanwhile, reports that British Defence Equipment
and Support Minister Quentin Davies has criticised Airbus
parent EADS over the programme delays and has refused to
rule out cutting back Britain's order.
"I am shocked and disappointing at news that EADS and Airbus
Military are not going to be able to provide these aircraft
on time and in the conditions provided for ... and we are
thinking very carefully what do about it," he said aboard
HMS Daring, the Royal Navy’s newest destroyer.
Asked whether Britain could cancel any of its 25 orders for
A400M aircraft in response to the delays, he said, "It is a
very unfortunate situation and we can't exclude any
possibility; we need the strategic capability."
Positive news is that the A400M’s much-maligned Europrop
International TP400-D6 power plant was run at "maximum
power" for "a couple of minutes" during its second flight
test aboard a C130K test bed aircraft last week.
Strategic Defence Package
Turning to the service’s newly-delivered fleet of BAE
Systems Mk120 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers the CAF said
“full system ownership of our 24 Hawk aircraft will be
achieved in June 2009. At present there are 30 pilots and
navigators crewing Hawks at 85 CFS, one of whom is a RAF
He also noted that the SAAF Gripen fleet has expanded to
five dual seat trainers and said “four more are to be
delivered by August 2009. Thereafter deliveries of the 17
single-seat aircraft will commence.”
On the status of the Super Lynx, Gagiano said: “Our four
Super Lynx helicopters have been successfully integrated
into the SAAF and flight trials in conjunction with the SA
Navy are at quite an advanced stage.”
Gagiano further averred work on upgrading the runway and
other facilities at AFB Waterkloof was on schedule, but
cautioned that it may take another two to three years to
complete the entire project.
Activities to be undertaken by the SAAF during 2009 include
next month’s Exercise Shield to practice command and control
in the Gauteng and North West region for the Soccer World
Cup, the parliamentary elections, the inauguration of the
upcoming President and the FIFA Confederations Cup.
In addition, Exercise Golfinho will be held in September, in
order to prepare the SADC Brigade for multidimensional peace
Gagiano once again stated that the Air force would not
participate in air shows this year. “The Air force will
rather make a concerted effort to support its main clients
such as the President and other VIPs, as well as other
Services and Divisions, in their force preparation efforts
Gagiano says a major disappointment over the last year was
the departure of 280 technical personnel. He expected this
trend to continue, “but the SAAF is collaborating with the
aviation industry to ensure that aviation in South Africa is
vibrant and growing.”
Air Force Day marks the founding of the airport on 1
February 1920, making the SAAF the second oldest
Commonwealth air force, just behind that of the Royal Air
Force and ahead of the Royal Australian Air Force.
The day is usually marked by a parade, a fly-past and the
presentation of awards.
Gagiano was welcomed on parade with a fly-past by the Silver
Falcons aerobatics team followed by three Denel M1 Oryx each
bearing the Air Force flag. Next came an impressive
helicopter formation, consisting of four Oryx and three
Eurocopter BK-117s, flanked by two Denel AH2A Rooivalk and
led by an AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300. This was the first
time the SuperLynx, based at AFB Ysterplaat, has been seen
in Gauteng. They were closely followed by eight Agusta
The final mass fly-past consisted of five Cessna C-208
Caravans and the SAAF’s sole Pilatus PC-12 light transport.
After his address Gagiano awarded 2 Air Servicing Unit,
headquartered at AFB Langebaanweg, the Air Force Prestige
Unit of the year for 2008.
15 Squadron of AFB Durban was awarded the coveted Air Force
Sword of Peace, while the Silver went to 22 Squadron (AFB
Ysterplaat) and Bronze to 17 Squadron (AFB Waterkloof). The
Sword of Peace rewards service to the nation, often in the
form of risky search-and-rescue missions in adverse weather
Other awards were:
· The South African Air Force Aviation Safety Award: Gold
went to 35 Squadron (AFB Ysterplaat), Silver went to 22
Squadron (AFB Ysterplaat) and Bronze went to 80 Air
Navigation School (AFB Ysterplaat).
· The Royal Air Force Training Award: Gold went to 6 Air
Servicing Unit (AFB Bloemspruit), Silver went to 87
Helicopter Flying School (AFB Bloemspruit), and Bronze went
to Central Flying School (AFB Langebaanweg).
· Fire & Rescue Services of the Year: Gold went to AFB
Langebaanweg, Silver to AFB Ysterplaat and Bronze to AFB
· Air Force Protection Squadron of the Year: Gold went to
525 Squadron (AFB Overberg) and Silver to 502 Squadron (68
Air School) and Bronze to 505 Squadron (AFB Ysterplaat).
· Air Force Reserve Squadron of the Year: Gold went to 107
Squadron (AFB Bloemspruit), Silver to 102 Squadron (AFB
Bloemspruit) and Bronze to 111 Squadron (AFB Waterkloof).
· Air Force Support Unit of the Year: Gold went to Air Force
Headquarters Unit and Silver to Air Publication Service
Centre (AFB Waterkloof).
· Air Force Air Servicing Unit of the Year: Gold went to 2
ASU (AFB Langebaanweg), Silver to 6 ASU (AFB Bloemspruit)
and Bronze to 2 ASU (Detached AFB Ysterplaat).
· Air Command Directorate of the Year: Gold went to
Directorate Combat Systems, Silver to Directorate Helicopter
Systems and Bronze to Directorate Technical Support
· Air Force Operational Support Unit of the Year: Gold went
to the Lowveld Airspace Control Sector (AFB Hoedspruit) and
Silver to Bushveld Airspace Control Sector (Air Command).
· Air Force Training Unit of the Year: Gold went to 80 Air
Navigation School (AFB Ysterplaat), Silver to SAAF College
and Bronze to Air Force Command and Control School (AFB
· Air Force Permanent Flying Unit of the Year: Gold went to
15 Squadron (AFB Durban), Silver to 28 Squadron (AFB
Waterkloof) and Bronze to 87 Helicopter Flying School (AFB
· Air Force Base of the Year: Gold went to AFB Durban,
Silver to AFB Ysterplaat and Bronze to AFB Langebaanweg.
· Safety, Health, Environment, Risk & Quality Award: Gold
went to AFB Makhado, Silver to AFB Overberg and Bronze to 41
Squadron (AFB Waterkloof).
Additional reporting by Leon Engelbrecht