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13 octobre 2015 2 13 /10 /octobre /2015 16:40
South Africa Air Force jet pilots going to Russia for further training

 

13 October 2015 by defenceWeb

 

The financially strapped SA Air Force (SAAF) is further extending its foreign training commitments with Russia being the latest addition.

A report has it that about 10 pilots from 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado have been selected for further training in Russia. This is a direct outflow of a co-operation agreement signed between the defence ministers of the two countries, Afrikaans weekly Rapport said.

 

Four pilots are already undergoing training in Cuba and according to SA National Defence Force Chief General Solly Shoke, agreements have also been entered into with the United States and the United Kingdom on various aspects of military training.

 

At the same time the paper reports the SAAF has experienced more resignations from the ranks of its jet pilots.

 

“Four of only the handful of jet fighter pilots in the SAAF have resigned leaving the force with three times as many Gripens as qualified pilots for them,” the paper said.

 

Making matters worse is that two test pilots based at AFB Overberg, home of the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC), have not had their contracts renewed.

 

Against this background it is not surprising the original number of 18 pilots supposed to go to Russia was cut. Another reason for sending fewer jet pilots is cost. South Africa had to pay for travel and living expenses while Russia is carrying the cost of training.

 

The majority of those going to Russia are qualified pilots but are short of flying hours to build their experience base. The lack of flying hours, also a result of a tight budget, has contributed in no small measure to this.

 

Pilots at AFB Makhado told the paper their colleagues who resigned had done so because they couldn’t fly. They have apparently joined airlines or companies operating in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China.

 

It appears the group bound for Russia are not going to have an easy time of it. A SAAF officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Russians had made it clear no time would be wasted on pilots who cannot fly properly.

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4 octobre 2015 7 04 /10 /octobre /2015 11:45
SAAF investigating Hawk squadron at AFB Waterkloof

 

01 October 2015 by Kim Helfrich - defencceWeb

 

85 Combat Flying School (CFS) of the SA Air Force (SAAF) is staying put at Fighter Town – AFB Makhado – but an investigation into an operational Hawk squadron at AFB Waterkloof is underway.

 

This was the official response from the Air Office of the SAAF when asked if there were plans in place for 85 CFS to move to the Centurion air force base, generally seen as the SAAF’s transport hub.

 

“The SAAF is currently investigating and testing the feasibility to re-open an operational Hawk squadron at AFB Waterkloof,” the statement said.

 

With a total of 24 Hawk Mk120s in its inventory, of which three are believed to be unserviceable thanks to accidents, the SAAF could set up a separate Hawk squadron with 12 aircraft. This would leave nine aircraft at the Limpopo base for training purposes.

 

AFB Makhado is also home to the SAAF’s only other fast jet squadron – 2 – which flies the Gripen. According to the Air Office there are “no plans for any relocation of 2 Squadron at the moment”.

 

Military aviation watchers generally maintain it would not be good to split the Hawk fleet into two because of the extra resources that would be required at AFB Waterkloof to maintain and keep the aircraft operational. They also point to the noise factor being a problem with the base surrounded by suburbia as well as AFB Waterkloof being almost in the centre of South Africa’s largest and busiest chunk of controlled airspace.

 

As far as actual flying training is concerned any Hawks based at AFB Waterkloof will have to “commute” to suitable airspace, the closest being north-east of Pretoria over the Wallmannsthal military area, before training can start. A commute to and from usable airspace will also add unneeded hours to airframes.

 

Another military aviation watcher asked if the possible move of assets and resources to AFB Waterkloof was not part of an improved defence system for Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative and diplomatic capital.

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24 juillet 2015 5 24 /07 /juillet /2015 07:45
SAAF Oryx has nose wheel accident in DRC

SAAF Oryx has nose wheel accident in DRC

 

22 July 2015 by Dean Wingrin

 

No-one was injured when a South African Air Force (SAAF) Oryx helicopter suffered damaged to its' nose on Saturday July 18 while operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 

Unconfirmed reports state the helicopter, serial 1209 (UNO 827), was taxiing on the ground at Goma airport in the eastern DRC at 14h45 when the nose wheel hit a 5cm raised section of a resurfaced taxiway area. This caused the nose wheel to collapse, leaving the helicopter nose down on the apron.

 

The SAAF operates a number of Oryx medium-transport helicopters as part of an SANDF deployment in the DRC. South African elements are part of both the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission and the UN FIB (Force Intervention Brigade).

 

In May this year, another SAAF Oryx flying in the DRC was hit by small arms fire when flying the MONUSCO Force Commander on a routine visit to the Bunia area of operations when several shots from a small calibre weapon were fired at it from unidentified gunmen on the ground. One of the projectiles penetrated an internal fuel tank, causing a fuel leak. The aircraft commander took evasive action, flew out of the danger zone and diverted safely to Beni Mavivi Airport.

 

Picture via the Unofficial SAAF website

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20 mars 2015 5 20 /03 /mars /2015 08:45
C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft

C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft

 

19 March 2015 by Kim Helfrich – defenceWeb

 

The decrease in pirate activity off Africa’s east coast has probably contributed to an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations decision to withdraw air operations from Pemba in support of the anti-piracy Operation Copper.

 

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) counter-piracy tasking is now in its fifth year of operation with South Africa as the major contributor of both personnel and equipment. Mozambique and Tanzania are the other two SADC nations who have committed to the operation in the Mozambique Channel since its inception in 2011.

 

The first Operation Copper deployment was early in 2011 following the hijacking of a Mozambican fishing vessel by Somali pirates in the northern reaches of the Mozambique Channel. Lindiwe Sisulu, at the time Defence and Military Veterans Minister, said South African warships were deployed to northern Mozambique along with a C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft from 35 Squadron and a 22 Squadron Super Lynx maritime helicopter. This hardware was supported by a total of 377 uniformed personnel from the air force, military health services and the navy.

 

Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, Joint Operations spokesman, confirmed this week that Pemba and hence 35 Squadron would no longer be a part of Operation Copper.

 

“Maritime operations will continue from an SA Navy platform,” he said, declining to answer questions on whether the SAAF would still be part of Op Copper.

 

At present the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) SAS Galeshewe is on station in the Mozambique Channel having replaced one of her sister ships, SAS Isaac Dyobha.

 

At various times since the deployment started the Navy has put Valour Class frigates and the supply ship SAS Drakensberg into the seas off the lower east African coast as a piracy deterrent. More recently this task has been the exclusive preserve of the serving OPVs, all converted Warrior Class strikecraft.

 

The normal OPV crew requirement for an Operation Copper deployment is around the 60 mark including a Maritime Reaction Squadron component, divers, an ops medic and two Mozambican sea riders.

 

The only South African platform to have been an active part of a counter-piracy operation was Drakensberg. She acted as southern stopper for the EU Naval Force to prevent a suspected pirate ship from escaping the multi-national task force based off the Horn of Africa.

 

It is not known at present if the term of Operation Copper will be extended. It was last extended for 12 months by President Jacob Zuma, in his capacity as SANDF Commander-in-Chief, until the end of March this year.

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21 janvier 2015 3 21 /01 /janvier /2015 08:45
South African Air Force Day parade

 

13 January 2015 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb

 

Friday, January 30, is Air Force Day and the South African Air Force (SAAF) will use AFB Waterkloof in Centurion to mark the start of its 95 years of existence, making it one of the world’s oldest independent air forces.

The annual Air Force Day parade is held on the Friday closest to February 1, acknowledged as the day when what is now the SAAF came into being in 1920. That was the date when Colonel Pierre van Ryneveld was appointed Director: Air Services with instructions to establish an air force for the then Union of South Africa.

The following year saw a site at Zwartkop (just east of what is now Thaba Tshwane and was then Roberts Heights before becoming Voortrekkerhoogte) selected as the fledgling force’s first aerodrome. AFB Zwartkop is today still a working base and is home to 17 Squadron and the SAAF Museum.

Brigadier General Marthie Visser said the final programme for SAAF 95 was still being worked on as far as format and the sequence of events was concerned. She was, however, hopeful a special SAAF 95 logo would be unveiled during the Air Force Day parade.

The closing date for 95th anniversary logo submissions is January 21 which leaves the judging panel only seven working days to decide on a winner.


No details of the January 30 parade have yet been made public but it is customary for the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to use the event to showcase as many of the aircraft it has in service as possible. In past years Gripen and Hawk jets have been the highlight of the flypast with Oryx, Agusta and Rooivalk helicopters taking part as well as transport aircraft ranging from the C-130BZ down to the Cessna 208 Caravan.

Traditionally the parade provides an opportunity for the Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, to give an overview of what the SAAF plans for the year ahead as well as reflecting on the achievements of the previous year.

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10 mars 2014 1 10 /03 /mars /2014 19:45
28 Squadron takes NSRI crew aboard for maritime flight training

Maritime flight training for NSRI - Picture Robert Fine, NSRI

 

10 March 2014 defenceWeb

 

28 Squadron is widely recognised as one of the hardest working units in the SA Air Force (SAAF) with its more than 50-year-old C-130BZs routinely providing logistic support across the country and the continent.

 

One of its other missions is search and rescue and training in this aspect of operations with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) recently took place a long way from the squadron’s home base at AFB Waterkloof.

 

A pair of BZs made AFB Ysterplaat their temporary base for maritime flight operations training. NSRI crew members Robert Fine and Mahboob Ebrahim were invited to join the crew aboard one of the BZs.

 

The mission the NSRI crew joined started early at Ysterplaat and after a flight briefing the aircraft departed for a location just off Saldanha Bay/Langebaan lagoon. Two specially deployed SANDF “casualty” vessels were on the sea in the area for the aircrew to spot and then deploy life rafts as near as possible.

 

“On arrival in the area, the C-130 started a search pattern and once the ‘casualties’ were located, the flight pattern was changed so that multiple smoke markers could be dropped in close proximity. The markers would assist with wind direction and enable the pilot to line up the aircraft on final approach. Once in position a life raft is pushed out of the back of the aircraft with a small parachute deploying to break its fall. It automatically inflates on hitting the water,” said Fine.

 

The C-130BZ has a range of about 2 700 nautical miles and an eight hour endurance. The four-engined aircraft can run search operations up to 1 300 nautical miles offshore with an hour on station depending on weather conditions and other variables. Different size life rafts can be dropped depending on the number of people needing rescue. Additional life rafts are carried aboard in case the initial drop is unsuccessful.

 

28 Squadron, under the command of Colonel Jurgens Prinsloo, has nine C-130BZs on its inventory to fulfil tasks ranging from logistic support for SANDF continental peacekeeping and peace support operations, humanitarian operations, search and rescue, support to the SA Army and general airlift.

 

The squadron is the SAAF’s main medium heavy airlift squadron and last June it marked its 70th anniversary at the same time as the 50th in-service anniversary of the C-130BZ.

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8 mars 2014 6 08 /03 /mars /2014 12:45
Options for new SAAF maritime surveillance platforms

 

 

07 March 2014 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb

 

With approval, in principle at present from the National Treasury, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s unhappiness about “her people” flying in aircraft more than 60 years old seems set to end, if only in a few years.

 

During his national budget speech last month Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan approved the acquisition of new maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) in the 2015/16 fiscal term for the South African Air Force (SAAF).

 

The new aircraft, the number of which was not stipulated by Gordhan, will replace 35 Squadron’s C-47TPs, now well over 60 years old and the mainstay of the SAAF’s maritime patrol and surveillance capability.

 

Mapisa-Nqakula specifically mentioned the age of aircraft in the wake of the C-47TP crash in the Drakensberg in December 2012 which left 11 dead.

 

With the door now open for MSAs, two of the potential suppliers have both stressed the importance of acquisitions that can fulfil multiple missions rather than be dedicated to the single tasking of maritime surveillance.

 

Taking an extract from the draft Defence Review, hopefully still to be tabled during the current session of Parliament, Lockheed Martin points to the importance of airborne maritime surveillance. The Review states: “as a trading nation, with over 95% of our trade being reliant on maritime trade routes, the security of South Africa and its people is crucially dependant on the ability to trade, grow the economy, reduce poverty and provide meaningful work for South Africa’s people” and, in reference to the threat of piracy, “protection of the trade routes for merchant shipping is of vital national interest to the nation. No less than 75% of South Africa’s oil imports on which the economy depends arrives by sea from the Middle East.”

 

The United States aerospace and defence company’s relationship with the SAAF goes back more than 50 years, having delivered C-130 Hercules to the SAAF half a century ago. C-130BZs in service with 28 Squadron are still the SAAF’s major airlift and transport aircraft. However, with these nearing the end of their serviceable lives, Lockheed Martin maintains the new generation C-130J Super Hercules is the right replacement.

 

Apart from being able to do what the current SAAF BZ fleet does more efficiently, the J models are also multi-mission. This means configurations can be changed to suit specific taskings, ranging from transport of troops and equipment through to medevac, VIP transport, firefighting and maritime surveillance and patrol as well as search and rescue, an important tasking given South Africa’s responsibilities in terms of its massive economic exclusion zone.

 

In similar vein the C295 from the Airbus Defence and Space stable is also a true multi-mission aircraft. It offers transport in all its variants; maritime surveillance, unarmed with the option of either palletised or permanently installed mission systems; maritime patrol, armed and also with either palletised or permanently fitted mission systems as well as oil spill response and protection.

 

With no real prospect of growth in the defence budget, the SAAF would be getting “more bang for its buck” if aircraft acquisitions are of the multi-mission type. This would cut down on the number of platforms to be purchased and allow more different mission taskings.

 

These are only two of the possibilities SAAF acquisitions personnel will be investigating - many other manufacturers have also expressed interest in Project Saucepan, including RUAG, Saab, L-3, ATR and HAL. Another possibility comes from a suggestion made by retired lieutenant general Carlo Gagiano, when he headed up the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

 

He proposed acquiring a number of smaller twin-engined aircraft, in the King Air size, to be fitted with the requisite equipment and operated by SAAF Reserve Force pilots from airports along the country’s coastline. Given that current SAAF chief, Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, has stated the revitalisation of the SAAF Reserve is one of his priorities, this could well add another arrow to the quiver that is maritime surveillance.

 

Reserve Force pilots based at say, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Cape Town, could utilise these SAAF assets, freeing up whatever other platforms are acquired for other duties.

 

All told, military aviation watchers maintain there are options aplenty available to the SAAF acquisitions personnel to beef up maritime surveillance and keep the seas off the country safe, essential given that South Africa is very much a maritime trading country.

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27 novembre 2013 3 27 /11 /novembre /2013 08:45
C-130J photo Frans Dely - Lockheed Martin

C-130J photo Frans Dely - Lockheed Martin

 

26 November 2013 by Kim Helfrich - defenceWeb

 

Lockheed Martin’s point man for Africa has hit South Africa with the declared mission of trying to establish exactly what the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) airlift requirements are.

 

Dennys Plessas, Vice President Business development Initiatives at the American aerospace company, told defenceWeb his three day visit would also allow him to put forward suggestions on the boosting of airlift capacity for the hard-pressed SAAF.

 

“I’m here to find out exactly what the SAAF’s needs and requirements are as far as airlift, whether it be tactical or strategic, is concerned. Both myself and Lockheed Martin are concerned a hastily taken decision in this regard can lead to problems down the line with aircraft maintenance and utilisation,” he said, regarding reports of feasibility and or project studies apparently currently underway for possible acquisition of Ilyushin Il-76s.

 

An indicator of the importance Lockheed Martin attaches to South Africa can be gathered from Plessas’ statement that the company is ready to engage with its single largest customer – the US Air Force – to accommodate any South African requirement for the C-130J Super Hercules.

 

“If needs be speedy procurement can be negotiated with the USAF.”

 

Earlier this year the SAAF marked the 50th year of service of the C-130BZ with AFB Waterkloof-based 28 Squadron. It was also the squadron’s 70th anniversary.

 

An indication of the respect the C-130J has earned among the world’s air forces was that the Indian Air Force had disposed of its Il-76s in favour of the new generation Hercules, he said. The sub-continent’s air force currently has 12 C-130Js in its fleet inventory.

 

“It is a true multi-role aircraft handling missions such as airlift, maritime patrol and reconnaissance, border protection as well as air-to-air refuelling and others,” Plessas said adding discussions with the current and immediate past SAAF chiefs had led him to believe aerial refuelling was high on the priority list.

 

“This appears to have changed and that is why I’m here – to find out what the priorities are and how the C-130J can fit those needs.”

 

He would not elaborate on exactly who he would be seeing during his short stay in South Africa but said the local United States Embassy was also ready to offer “every assistance” if there was a decision to go the C-130J route by the SAAF.

 

The SAAF’s C-130 fleet will be retired in 2020, leaving only a few years to decide on a replacement. The Air Force also needs to urgently replace its Turbo Dakota maritime surveillance aircraft, under Project Saucepan. Lockheed Martin has previously suggested its Sea Hercules and C-130XJ Expandable Super Hercules could meet this requirement, and fulfil the SAAF’s airlift needs. The C-130XJ would have a substantial amount of local content fitted to meet South African requirements.

 

The US Air Force brought a Super Hercules to the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in Pretoria in September last year.

 

During a briefing last year Plessas noted that the C-130J could provide 90% of the SAAF’s airlift capability (including cargo transport, peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, medevac, search and rescue etc). It could also meet 100% of the SAAF’s maritime/border patrol requirements and 100% of its tanking needs, as the KC-130J has successfully refuelled Gripen fighters.

 

The SAAF’s eight C-130BZs are projected to keep flying until 2020, up from the earlier date of 2015, but the Air Force has yet to issue a request for information (RFI) or request for proposals (RFP) for replacements. Lockheed Martin pointed out that the SAAF’s Boeing 707 tankers had been retired in 2007 and that its C-47TP aircraft are 1940s vintage.

 

Lockheed Martin ready to assist with SAAF airlift acquisition

Until the cancellation of the Airbus Military A400M in 2009, the SAAF envisaged a transport trinity with the A400M as the heavy/strategic transport, a C130-type aircraft as a medium airlifter and a third type as a light utility aircraft.

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14 novembre 2013 4 14 /11 /novembre /2013 12:45
Il-76s for the SAAF?

 

13 November 2013 defenceWeb

 

A SA National Defence Force (SANDF) project team is burning the midnight oil on an urgent study to ensure extra airlift capacity for the SA Air Force (SAAF) becomes a reality.

 

Afrikaans daily Beeld reports Ilyushin 76s (Il-76s) are top of the list to supplement the ageing C-130BZs operated by 28 Squadron.

 

The acquisition of at least three of the massive Russian transport aircraft, probably second hand, is seen as essential to providing support for South African peacekeeping and peace support deployments on the continent.

 

The acquisition will be paid for out of the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP), the paper reported.

 

Defence analyst Helmoed Heitman told the paper the establishment of the airlift project team could be traced back to the Central African Republic (CAR) deployment and the Battle for Bangui earlier this year. This because no suitable aircraft were available at short notice to fly much-needed Mamba vehicles to South African troops.

 

Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the C-130, has made presentations to the SAAF as regards replacing the BZ, which has been in service for 50 years, with the new C-130J. The gap in airlift capacity became more pronounced when government bailed out of the Airbus Military A400M programme in 2009 citing cost escalations and production delays as the reasons for South Africa no longer wanting to be a risk sharing partner in the new generation airlifter. A deposit of R3.5 billion was refunded but indications earlier this year were at least part of that money was allocated to the controversial Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

 

Heitman told Beeld’s specialist defence writer Erika Gibson the SAAF has never before operated Russian aircraft and, if Il-76s were acquired, it would mean an overhaul of the logistic system to keep them operational. There are also currently no SAAF pilots rated on the Il-76.

 

The SANDF has used chartered Il-76s to transport equipment to places like the Democratic Republic of Congo for peacekeeping missions, as it is difficult to fit aircraft like Oryx helicopters into the SAAF’s C-130s without major dismantling. Chartering aircraft is an expensive undertaking – for example the SANDF spent R108 million chartering aircraft for operations in the Central African Republic between January and April this year.

 

The Il-76 is a four-engined strategic airlifter that first flew in March 1971. Nearly a thousand of these robust aircraft have been built for military and commercial operators around the world, with hundred still in service. The aircraft can carry between 42 and 52 tonnes of payload, depending on the model.

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7 novembre 2013 4 07 /11 /novembre /2013 12:45
AgustaWestland A109 Light Utility Helicopter

AgustaWestland A109 Light Utility Helicopter

 

06 November 2013 by Dean Wingrin - defenceWeb

 

After five months of not flying, the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) fleet of Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) are back in the air again and converting new pilots.

 

The current conversion course for new A109 pilots has finally resumed at 87 Helicopter Flying School, AFB Bloemspruit, near Bloemfontein. The other two squadrons equipped with the type, 15 Squadron (Durban) and 17 Squadron (Swartkop) are also flying again, with the type appearing at the SAAF Air Capability Demonstration held at the Roodewal bombing range at the end of October.

 

The latest grounding followed the March crash of an A109 on aerial patrol in the Kruger National Park, which flew into ground, killing all five on board. As a result, the course converting existing helicopter pilots to the A109 was temporarily stopped, pending the investigation. The course pupils were sent on leave and thereafter back to their previous home squadrons, but as they had already started their conversion, they were not allowed to fly the Oryx helicopters that they were previously qualified on.

 

After some months of inactivity, the severe budgetary constraints affecting the SAAF resulted in a shortage of funds to keep the A109 fleet flying. Ground running the engines and infrequent flights was all that could be done, with the course pupils still sitting idly at their previous home squadrons.

 

At the same time, it is rumoured that certain tail rotor bolts had to be replaced, but these had not been ordered. Then, the A109 ground simulator was upgraded, resulting in yet another delay to the commencement of the course.

 

The SAAF commitment of supplying Oryx helicopters to MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has also resulted in a shortage of Oryx pilots, whilst other pilots were drafted to 16 Squadron to increase the pool of Rooivalk attack helicopter pilots. The Rooivalk was only recently deployed to the DRC.

 

The cascading effect was such that a new instructor course was required before the deferred conversion course could recommence. With this process completed, the conversion course resumed at the beginning of October, much to the relief of the course students.

 

The A109 has been the black sheep of SAAF’s helicopter fleet, never living up to expectations. Deemed too complex to convert newly qualified pilots onto helicopters, it has also been reported that the helicopter can neither carry operational loads in high heat conditions nor fly in strong wind.

 

Although the conversion course onto the A109 is held at Bloemfontein, the course deploys to Port Elizabeth for certain landing tasks as Bloemfontein is deemed too hot and high to practise such techniques.

 

The Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland A109 LUH was purchased to replace the elderly Alouette III helicopter in the light utility role, with the delivery of the first of 30 helicopters commencing in 2005.

 

According to the SAAF, typical missions for the A109 includes training, search and rescue, rope extraction & rappelling, trooping, medical evacuation (casevac), cargo transport, border patrol, peacekeeping, communications and urban operations.

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14 mars 2013 4 14 /03 /mars /2013 17:45

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/images/stories/AIR/C-130J_Frans_Dely_400x300.jpg

Picture: Frans Dely/Lockheed Martin

 

14 March 2013 by Kim Helfrich - defenceweb.co.za

 

It could be termed “a call to action” or even a friendly warning but the meaning is clear – unless those tasked with planning for the equipment needs of the SA Air Force (SAAF) don’t start now, the country is going to find itself grounded when it comes to airlift.

 

The SAAF maintains it can operate its ageing fleet of C-130BZ Hercules until 2020 but this doesn’t mean work on replacing these venerable workhorses shouldn’t start now. This is the view of Dennys Plessas, Lockheed Martin Vice President Business Development Initiatives, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

 

“A start has to be made on planning to replace the BZs,” he told journalists in Pretoria this week.

 

He acknowledged the South African defence budget, in common with many western countries, was under “extreme stress”. He noted that at a cost of between R693 and R780 million for the basic aircraft, it would be better to look at acquisition “sooner rather than later”.

 

With timeframes for delivery of up to five years from the date of initial contractual agreement to acquire new aircraft, this certainly makes sense. Plessas pointed out that fine-tuning of contracts and all documentation could take up to a year.

 

“When this, along with actual build time, fitting of customer specific requirements and testing is taken into account, there is not really too much time left for the SAAF to start serious work on the C-130BZ replacements.”

 

The SAAF C-130s are operated by 28 Squadron at AFB Waterkloof and this year notch up a remarkable 50 years of service. This Plessas sees as not only a tribute to the flying and maintenance skills of the SAAF and the maintenance and repair abilities of Denel Aviation but also the ruggedness of the aircraft.

 

“It has proven itself as a willing workhorse all over the world and has, over the years, been adapted to any number of missions.”

 

It’s origin as a pure airlifter has been boosted by the addition of mission capabilities including air-to-air refuelling, VIP passenger transport, firefighting, maritime patrol and reconnaissance, paradropping and even an armed version.

 

Airlift and maritime patrol are two red light areas of operation facing the SAAF and Plessas believes the C-130J can do these jobs as well as others.

 

“This would eliminate the need to acquire extra platforms and because the SAAF is a long-time user of the C-130, at least half the infrastructure needed for new Lockheed Martin platforms is already in place. I see an almost seamless transition to the C-130J if the planners decide it is the most suitable platform.”

 

This was further borne out by William Swearengen, Air Mobility Systems Studies Principal at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

 

He and his team have completed a number of studies pertaining to the use of the C-130J by the SAAF. These include maritime patrols and air-to-air refuelling.

 

Working from AFB Waterkloof, the new generation airlifters, when suitably equipped, could refuel 2 Squadron Gripens on sorties across the continent. They could also provide full coverage, using a single aircraft, of South Africa’s exclusive economic zone and its priority fishing areas also from Waterkloof, obviating the need to duplicate facilities for maintenance at either AFB Ysterplaat or Port Elizabeth.

 

These studies show the latest generation Hercules will be a true multi-mission platform and when the possible inclusion of high-tech passenger capsules is added, the C-130J can be tasked in yet another area of operations the SAAF is battling to fill adequately.

 

Both Plessas and Swearengen point out the modular system of roll-on/roll-off components for different missions do not all have to be done at once.

 

“These are all already in service and development costs have been paid by the US Air Force. This means no extra cost and with all the necessary fitment options already on the C-130J they can be acquired as need and finance dictate adding more value to the multi-mission role of the aircraft,” they said.

 

28 Squadron has nine C-130BZs on its inventory to fulfil tasks ranging from logistic support for SA National Defence Force continental peacekeeping and peace support operations, humanitarian operations, support to the landward force, and general airlift. Indications are three, at most four, aircraft are airworthy at any given time.

 

Time to start working on C-130BZ replacement is now

The C-130BZs were scheduled to be replaced by Airbus’ new generation A400M airlifter, but this order was cancelled due to delays in production, and cost escalations. A deposit of R3.5 billion, paid to Airbus as a risk taking partner in the A400M programme, has been refunded to government but has not been allocated to aircraft acquisition. Indications are at least part of the refund went to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme.

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14 mars 2013 4 14 /03 /mars /2013 17:45

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/images/stories/AIR/Air_new/c130_za4_400x300.JPG

 

14 March 2013 by Kim Helfrich- defenceWeb

 

The South African Air Force’s (SAAF) only dedicated airlift unit, based at AFB Waterkloof, marks its 70th anniversary in June. At the same time it will also mark the 50th year of service of the venerable Hercules C-130BZ with the SAAF.

 

The third number that will be commemorated is 100, to mark the centenary of Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace company responsible for the design and manufacture of the C-130, now in its J model.

 

Immediately after being formed at Almaza, Egypt, on June 1, 1943, 28 Squadron was split into two, with A Flight based at Castel Benito in Italy and B Flight based at Ras-el-Ma in Morocco, both operating Avro Ansons, according to the Unofficial SAAF website.

 

By August that year Wellingtons and Dakotas had joined the fleet. The squadron also operated detachments in Sicily and Algeria and it was only at the end of the war in Europe that the squadron consolidated operations at Maison Blanche, Algeria.

 

In September 1945 the squadron returned to South Africa and was based at AFB Swartkop from where it shuttled South African troops home from North Africa and Europe (the “Springbok Shuttle”) during 1945 and early 1946 using Dakotas. At this time, they also operated the Anson, DH Rapide and a single Avro York.

 

VIP flights were an important part of 28 Squadrons taskings, with various Dakotas and Venturas fitted out with improved accommodation. From 22 September 1948 to 25 September 1949, two contingents participated in the Berlin Airlift, flying Royal Air Force aircraft. In 1949, nine De Havilland Devons were added to the VIP fleet followed by De Havilland Herons in 1955, while the York was disposed of in 1952. When the Dakota could no longer be used to fly VIPs to Europe, a Viscount was acquired in 1958.

 

Seven C-130B Hercules were acquired in 1963 and when the squadron moved to AFB Waterkloof it left its Dakotas behind to join 44 Squadron at Swartkop. In February 1968 the VIP flight was reconstituted as 21 Squadron (taking with it the Viscount), while the C-160Z Transall was acquired in 1969 and operated with the squadron from January 1970 until they retired in 1993. Three ex-US Navy C-130F aircraft were acquired in 1996, with a further two ex-US Air Force C-130Bs following in 1998. The F models were only flown for a short period before being retired, but the squadron continues to fly the nine C-130B Hercules all upgraded to C-130BZ configuration.

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25 janvier 2013 5 25 /01 /janvier /2013 08:45

denel_aviation_cheetah.jpg

 

24 January 2013 by Dean Wingrin - defenceweb

 

The South African Air Force (SAAF) has defended the cancellation of its contract with Aero Manpower Group (AMG), a Denel business unit, and has hinted that a new contract may be negotiated.

 

The long standing contract between the SAAF and AMG provides specialist technical and support personnel who are responsible for the maintenance of a variety of SAAF aircraft at bases across the country. However, the SAAF has given notice to Denel that they will not be renewing the current contract, which terminates at the end of March.

 

Last week, Denel Personnel Solutions said that as there was no contract or orders beyond March 31 this year, the only option was “retrenchment of the entire AMG workforce”. AMG has held talks with the affected employees at the various SAAF bases and have outlined the plan for their retrenchment.

 

In response to negative media publicity, the SAAF has reiterated that the termination of the contract was because the contract had been declared irregular by the Auditor General.

 

Lt Col Ronald Maseko, spokesperson for the SAAF, said that “the contract dates back to a period (1986) where the current governance regime did not exist. Consequent to the Auditor General’s findings in 2009, that the contract does not comply with the Public Finance Management Act and National Treasury Regulations, the SAAF has engaged its strategic partner Denel Aviation in pursuit of an acceptable solution.”

 

Since then, Maseko notes, the Auditor General has consistently referred to this irregularity and the SAAF’s notice of termination dates back to 2011.

 

“The termination of the contract, in accordance with a provision stipulated in the contract, places the SAAF in full compliance with the Auditor General’s recommendations and allows the SAAF to develop its strategic partnership with Denel Aviation unhindered by governance irregularities,” Maseko emphasised.

 

Despite the looming crises which will severely affect the airworthiness of a number of SAAF aircraft, including those in the VIP squadron, the SAAF has not revealed any contingency plans should the contract not be renewed.

 

Trade Union Solidarity has said that at least 75% of the 523 Denel employees are in the scarce and critical skills band, without which efficient functioning of the SAAF will not be possible.

 

The VIP transport aircraft operated by 21 Squadron are almost exclusively signed out by AMG personnel and the effects of the contract cancelation will be keenly felt by the President and Cabinet Ministers. Other AMG personnel perform critical roles in workshops and testing laboratories.

 

Despite the impending crisis, Maseko notes optimistically that the negotiation of a new contract with Denel “can only benefit the development of a vibrant South African aviation industry that is capable of continued support to the SAAF in executing its mandate.”

 

Even SAAF personnel who work side-by-side with the AMG employees or who fly the aircraft are uncertain of what will happen from 1 April. While it appears that Denel may be going through the legal motions of advising their employees of a possible retrenchment, just in case a new contract with the SAAF cannot be negotiated in time, the affected personnel are going through a trying time.

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4 octobre 2011 2 04 /10 /octobre /2011 12:00

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/images/stories/AIR/Air_new/c130_za4_400x300.JPG

 

03 October 2011 by defenceWeb

 

A small investment could extend the lifetime of the South African Air Force's small and venerable fleet of Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules medium transports until about 2030. That's the view of C130 life extension programme project officer Brigadier General (Retired) Piet van Zyl.

 

Addressing a media briefing Friday he said the replacement cost of each aircraft was some US$142 million (R1.067 billion) based on the average sales price of the C130J over the last eight years. To replace the seven SAAF C-130BZ aircraft will cost R7.470 billion, he said.

 

But with an investment of 3.30% of its replacement value, the SAAF safely extended the service life of its C130BZ fleet to 2020. For another 4.70% of replacement value the fleet service life may be extended to 2030.

 

The SAAF C-130 fleet consists of seven platforms (401 - 407) purchased in 1962-3 before a US arms embargo was imposed on South Africa's apartheid government and five received in 1997/8 from the US (two ex-United States Air Force C-130B's – 408 and 409 – and three ex-US Navy C-130F's – 410 to 412 as part of their Excess Defence Articles programme. The two ex-US C-130B 's and a C-130F (411) were subsequently put in service, but the C-130F was retired soon thereafter.

 

Van Zyl says only minor upgrades implemented between 1963 and 1995. The most significant of these was a centre wing replacement and outer wing refurbishment from 1969 to 1972 done under the auspices of Lockheed, an engine upgrade (from Allison T56-A-7 to T56-A-15) during the early 1970s and a basic avionic upgrade during the early 1980s.

 

A comprehensive avionics upgrade – Project Ebb - was launched in 1996 and completed in July 2010, the aircraft afterwards receiving the SAAF-unique BZ annotation. Van Zyl adds the SAAF C-130BZ aircraft are now equipped with the latest avionics technology, which has dramatically increased the operational capability of the fleet.

 

As a consequence, the fleet has visited 15 countries and flown 680 hours between April 1 and September 26 this year. But the higher operational flying rate has resulted in more failures by some sub-systems that have become unreliable due to age and original marginal design. A partnering with Denel Aviation to do deeper level maintenance and overhaul at AFB Waterkloof through a combined Maintenance and Repair Organisation (MRO) has reduced turnaround time on minor services from an average of 182 days to 84 days, a 53% reduction in down-time, Van Zyl added.

 

“Squadron personnel can now concentrate on flight line availability, which has greatly improved turn-around time,” he adds, saying the average number of mission ready aircraft now stands at 4.1 per day, “even peaking at 5 aircraft for short periods”, from a previous maximum of 2.5 aircraft per day.

 

Van Zyl sought to assure his audience it would be safe to fly the aircraft. He says a detailed engineering study conducted recently to determine the remaining service life of the fleet, found

all seven SAAF C-130BZ aircraft can safely fly to 2020 provided that the most critical obsolescence issues can be resolved – this including the aircraft's pressurisation system, air conditioning and GTC. To fly to 2030, the aircrafts' engines will need serious attention by 2022.

The SAAF C-130BZ fleet has to date only used – on average – 65% of their assigned wing life. The aircraft with the most flying time on the log has flown some 14 000 hours, while many other C130s and L100s (the civil version) have clocked up over 100 000 hours. Van Zyl says most C130 owners as a consequence of this long-livity plan to fly them indefinitely.

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