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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 08:45
SAAF at 95 falls short of 1998 Defence Review’s equipment recommendations


03 February 2015 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb


Last Friday the SA Air Force (SAAF) officially marked its 95th anniversary as part of the annual Air Force Day parade with a flypast of mostly Air Force Museum aircraft taking centre stage due to limited funding and aircraft availability.


Brigadier General Marthie Visser, Director: Corporate Staff Services, said the use almost exclusively of SAAF Museum aircraft was also a great way to showcase the air force’s history.


The issue of funding is a long-running one not only with the air force but also the other arms of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). Taking specifically the airborne arm into account it is pertinent to look at what was recommended by the 1998 Defence Review as far as force design options for the SAAF are concerned.


This was part of a presentation made to the Seriti Commission of Inquiry by SAAF Deputy Chief, Major General Gerald Malinga, during the public hearings into allegations of corruption during the 1998 Arms Deal.


That Review, not to be confused with the current one on which Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is seeking public input, recommended 32 medium jet fighters and 16 light fighters for the SAAF.


Instead the SAAF, as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP), acquired 26 Gripen jet fighters and 24 Hawk Mk 120 Lead-In Fighter Trainers.


The proposed figure for reconnaissance aircraft in the 1998 Review was 32 made up of 16 light reconnaissance aircraft, six long range maritime patrol aircraft and 10 short range maritime patrol aircraft. Another proposed addition was for a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).


At present the only true reconnaissance aircraft available to the SAAF are the handful of ageing C-47TPs operated by 35 Squadron. 41 Squadron’s 208 Caravans, King Airs and PC-12s can also be used for this tasking but are utilised more in the transport role for both cargo and people.


The 1998 Review said a total of 44 transport aircraft would meet SAAF needs. This presumably included the medium airlift capacity of 28 Squadron’s more than 50 year-old C-130BZs as well as 41 Squadron and 44 Squadron (C-212 Aviocar). At the moment the SAAF has nine C-130BZs, three C212s, 7 C-47TPs, four King Airs, ten Caravans and one PC-12 in its inventory for a total of 34 transport aircraft.


The 1998 Review recommendation of 12 combat support helicopters is currently in service minus one Rooivalk, written off following an accident.


As far as maritime helicopters are concerned, according to the Review Malinga quoted in his presentation to the Seriti Commission called for five aircraft. Currently the SAAF operates four Super Lynx maritime helicopters from AFB Ysterplaat-based 22 Squadron.


The 1998 Review wanted the air force to have 96 transport helicopters. Exact figures are not available but 15, 17, 19 and 22 Squadrons as well as 87 Helicopter Flying School at AFB Bloemspruit operate either Oryx, Agusta A109 and BK-177 or a combination of these types. Approximately 39 Oryx, 29 A109 and six BK-117s are in the inventory for a total of 74 helicopters.


In-flight refuelling and electronic warfare would have seen the SAAF operate five specialist aircraft in these roles if the Review was fully accepted. Today it has zero in-flight refuelling capability, with the electronic warfare and refuelling Boeing 707s retired.


VIP and VVIP transport should by now, in the 1998 Review, have been the responsibility of nine aircraft. 21 Squadron today operates the Boeing BBJ, a pair of ageing Falcons and a Cessna Citation.


Addressing the Air Force Day parade, SAAF Chief, Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, did not specifically mention acquisitions except when he referred to “capacity building and the enhancement of the air force’s capabilities”.

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29 janvier 2015 4 29 /01 /janvier /2015 08:45
Defence Review short-changed time-wise by Parliamentary committee



28 January 2015 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb


There does not appear to be any real urgency regarding the Defence Review and its need to progress through the Parliamentary process enabling at least a start to be made on reversing the downward spiral of the South African military.


The latest example of tardiness can be found in the programme of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence for the first part of the 2015 Parliamentary work year.


The Parliamentary Programme Framework provides for a committee period between January 27 and February 11 for Parliamentary committees, such as defence, to meet and conduct oversight visits.


In essence it boils down to the Framework making time available for the various Parliamentary committees to work.


“It means 10 days, spanning 80 hours, of meetings could have been scheduled for the Joint Standing Committee on Defence to consider aspects of the Defence Review, by agreement the committee’s top priority. Sadly, not a single meeting has been scheduled for the committee period,” said David Maynier, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence and military veterans minister.


The Defence Review was completed at the request of then Defence Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, by Roelf Meyer and his team for tabling in Parliament late in 2012. A change of Minister ensured this did not happen and when current Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, eventually tabled the document in Parliament last July, its title was changed to reflect it as the 2014 Defence Review and not the 2012 Defence Review.


Among others, the Review stated the SANDF was “in a critical state of decline, characterised by force imbalance between capabilities; block obsolescence and unaffordability of many of its main operating systems; a disproportionate tooth-to-tail ratio; the inability to meet current standing defence commitments and the lack of critical mobility”.


Taking another excerpt from the Review (“even with an immediate intervention it could take at least five years to arrest the decline and another five to develop a limited and sustainable defence capability”) to illustrate the need to get on with the job as far as turning the SANDF around Maynier points out “there is an element of urgency”.


“Every day wasted talking about the Defence Review, rather the implementing it, accelerates the decline of the SANDF.”


He is not happy about the manner in which the Joint Standing Committee intends to deal with the Review.


“Its current rubberstamp programmes envisage dealing with the 344 page document, based on 435 stakeholder meetings and 76 public submissions at a cost of nearly R11 million to the taxpayer in three meetings. These meetings are set to last 10.5 hours and will take place between February 20 and March 5.”


He has proposed an alternative of 18 meetings including briefings on military preparedness, downsizing and rightsizing, acquisition priorities and affordability of Review proposals.


“In the end it is a disgrace that the SANDF is being held hostage by lazy and disinterested MPs serving on the Joint Standing Committee on Defence,” Maynier said this week.

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11 mars 2014 2 11 /03 /mars /2014 18:45
Defence Review delayed again


11 March 2014 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb


It appears unlikely Roelf Meyer’s Defence Review with be tabled in Parliament before it rises ahead of the May election, even though it is on the agenda for a Defence and Military Veterans Portfolio Committee set down for Friday.


This contradicts what SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief President Jacob Zuma said when he spoke at this year’s Armed Forces Day parade in Bloemfontein last month.


“I am pleased with the overall plan that has emerged to address the various limitations, including on the issues of budgets, currently affecting our ability to take proper care of our soldiers. Much consideration and time has been put in this work as we have now reached the final stages for Cabinet approval.


“It is my view these should be finalised, in the context of the current Defence Review, before the end of the term of office of this government,” he said at AFB Bloemspruit on February 21.



The current session of Parliament, the last of the fourth Parliament of the Republic, is set to end on Friday the day after Zuma is due to answer questions from MPs in the house.


That is the day the Portfolio Committee will deliberate for four hours over a single agenda item – “Briefing by the Defence Review Commission on matters relating to their review of defence policy”.


Former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, under whose leadership Roelf Meyer’s committee was established to review the national defence policy as regards the structure and operations of the SANDF, the role of the local defence industry and Armscor, the State’s security acquisition agency, wanted the Review tabled in Parliament in October 2012.


Her successor, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, last month said: “The work of the Defence Review Committee is nearing completion. The Review is only awaiting Cabinet approval and if its vision for the defence force is accepted, then this leadership should stand ready for its implementation. The Review will inform the role, shape, design and trajectory of the SANDF for the next 20 to 30 years”.


DA shadow defence and military veterans minister, David Maynier, maintains “there is no prospect the Review will be adopted by the fourth democratic Parliament”.


“This means the SANDF will be in a holding pattern for a significant period, at least until late 2014/15.


“The real problem with the Review is the flawed process. The final document does not contain a fully costed force design with buy-in from all stakeholders, including National Treasury. This I see causing further delays in the adoption process when the fifth democratic Parliament starts work,” he said.


One of the proposals in the Review is to do away with Armscor in its present form and establish an acquisition department reporting to the Secretary for Defence.


The friction between the Minister and the acquisition agency has now reached the Constitutional Court following Mapisa-Nqakula’s summary dismissal of chairman “Mojo” Motau and his deputy Refiloe Mokoena last year. They were reinstated after taking the matter to the north Gauteng High Court. This, in turn, saw an appeal to the Constitutional Court lodged by the Defence Ministry.


The matter was heard on February 17 and judgement has been reserved.


The judgement, when it comes, will come under the purview of the new Cabinet expected to be announced within days of the May 7 elections. This, along with the future of the Defence Review, are now effectively on hold for the next three months.

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16 janvier 2014 4 16 /01 /janvier /2014 17:45
Still no progress on Defence Review



15 January 2014 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb


An indication of the priority rating, or lack of it, attached to the Defence Review comes from Shadow Defence and Military Veterans Minister David Maynier who told defenceWeb that as of today, 11 official Parliamentary questions on the review and associated matters asked by him have not yet been replied to.


The more than 400 page Defence Review is seen as the precursor to a new White Paper on defence that will prescribe the form of South Africa’s military for at least the next 20 years. It will also guide equipment procurement and be a valuable planning tool for the local defence industry.


Former Defence Minister Roelf Meyer was asked by then Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in July 2011 to review the current defence policy and present a document setting out the way forward.


Meyer and his six member committee, supported by a six-strong resource group, embarked on a national tour to obtain input from not only the defence and military sector but also civil society. Hundreds of meetings and engagements later, they produced the draft Defence Review, beating the deadline set by Sisulu, who said she wanted it to be tabled in Parliament by October 2012.


The Parliamentary deadline passed without the Review being seen by the national legislature. This was at the time ascribed to the arrival of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in the Defence and Military Veterans Ministry with the outspoken Sisulu moved to Public Service and Administration.


Since then Meyer and his co-committee members have done more reworking of their document following meetings with the then new Minister as well one with President Jacob Zuma, Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).


That the Defence Review has to make it to Parliament has also been pointed out by Peter Groenewald, FF+ spokesman on defence. He noted that both the Department of Defence’s annual Strategic and Performance Plans make reference to it.


“If it is not approved or at least debated initially there will be no progress in creation of an SANDF capable of doing what government wants it to do down the line.”


In October defence analyst Helmoed Heitman, who is also a member of the Review committee, told defenceWeb the document has gone “about as far as it can”.


The Review’s lack of progress through official channels he said is “a real problem”.


“The strategic situation in Africa is changing quickly – and for the worse – while the SANDF is stuck with the old 1998 Defence Review force design and National Treasury intent on enforcing that, despite the obvious requirement to increase force levels and add certain capabilities, no more funding comes to the military.”

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