A South African C-130BZ Hercules transport aircraft
18:11 GMT, January 31, 2011 DEFPRO.COM
The South African Air Force (SAAF) will not be renewing its aged transport fleet any time soon. Chief of the Air Force Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano says despite this fleet being in urgent need of replacement, the Air Force has had to reprioritise its requirements in line with those of the broader defence force. Gagiano told journalists Friday his Service has had to take a step back and re-evaluate its needs. Thus, there will be no decision made on new transport aircraft, either to replace current capability or new strategic capabilities that the now-cancelled A400M would have provided. With most transport aircraft ranging in age from 21 to 75 years old, the proverbial pachyderm remains a too-small overall defence budget. The loss of highly skilled air and ground personnel has long been a challenge to the SAAF. This past year has been kind to the SAAF, with Gagiano particularly happy that the loss rates had dropped significantly during 2010. Only 15 pilots had resigned during the past year. The figure for 2009 was 20, while 48 pilots resigned in 2008. A total of 94 technical non-commissioned officers resigned in 2010, the same as in 2009, compared to 200 in 2008. Similarly, eight Air Traffic Controllers had resigned, compared to eight in 2009 and eleven in 2008, he told reporters ahead of the annual Air Force Day Parade held on Friday at Swartkop airfield near Pretoria.