SAAF Air Capability Demonstration, 01 September 2011
On the first of September the SAAF held its second bi-annual air capability demonstration at Roodewal bombing range. After an early morning welcome briefing at AFB Waterkloof, invited VIP’s and guests were flown to Polokwane International Airport, and then driven by bus the further half hour to the site in the Limpopo province.
Further comprehensive briefings were held, covering recent SANDF operations, including simulated joint exercises involving members of the Executive National Security Programme (ENSP), the Army, Navy and Medical services. The slide shows and accompanying talks were extremely interesting and well presented, even covering the unexpected event of a Rooivalk having to be “rescued” from being snowed-in during a huminitarian exercise.
The Chief of the SAAF, Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano, gave the opening address and stated that the event was an ideal opportunity for the Air Force to promote itself, even in times of limited financial resources.
The display included SAAF’s fighter jets, the Gripen and Hawk, a selection of helicopters including the Rooivalk attack helicopters firing live rounds, BK 117 and Oryx and the spectacular dropping of 120 kg and 250kg bombs onto a target site called Charlie Coke.
Colonel Rama Iyer (Director Basic Flying Training SAAF) gave commentary on the bombing sequence, informing how increased technology has greatly increased accuracy in hitting a target.
To end the hour-long event, spectators were treated to tight 8-ship formation fly-pasts from both the Gripens and Hawks, as well as a sky-full of helicopters stretched across the horizon coming in in a most spectacular display.
After a well-organised lunch, guests were again returned by bus to the Polokwane airport for connecting flights to AFB Waterkloof. Indeed, everything ran very smoothly and professionally with excellent hospitality provided and it was an enormous privilege to attend this impressive “show of strength” event.