Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 was held at Air Force Base Waterkloof from the 14th to the 18th September 2016. As before, the premier exhibition of air, sea and land technologies on the African continent consisted of three trade days followed by two public days.
Africa Aerospace and Defence continues to grow and the number of exhibitors, countries exhibiting and trade visitors increased from previous editions. The attached chart gives an overview of AAD 2016 in numbers.
Kevin Wakeford, CEO of Armscor, said after the event that “the lasting value of AAD 2016 will become apparent in coming months through partnerships formed during the five day event, resulting in business and export opportunities for local companies. AAD is the premier event that showcases the range, depth and quality of South Africa’s high-tech defence and aerospace industries. As the most important event on the African continent, it presents the ideal platform where decision-makers can observe the latest local technology and products and network with their international counterparts.”
Leo Dillman, CEO of CAASA, summarised AAD as follows and highlighted some of the areas that are currently receiving major attention: “AAD is a unique event for the general public and has a very good mix of exhibitors and activities that cause a massive migration of people and institutions to Air Force Base Waterkloof. People want to keep up with the new satellite technology, global positioning systems, and latest in radar and radio technologies, because everything is evolving so quickly, which is evidenced by the manner in which unmanned aerial vehicles or drones are being employed, from intelligence and surveillance to border control.”
An African Unity Pavilion was present for the first time. AAD2016 hosted the technology and products manufactured on the rest of the African continent for the first time. Defence companies from Nigeria, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Sudan shared this exhibition space.
Sudan’s SAFAT Aviation Group exhibited at AAD for the first time and they brought aircraft along to take part in the flying displays. The group showcased their SAFAT 02 light helicopter manufactured in a joint venture with the Ukrainian designers Aerokopter. Also on display at Waterkloof was the SAFAT 03, a Sudanese designed and built two seat plane used primarily for pilot training.
The Zimbabwean Air Force arrived with a Casa 212 and two K-8 trainers, one of which flew throughout the week.
The Zambian Air Force brought two of its newly delivered L-15 Falcon fighter/ trainer aircraft. One of the aircraft was on static display while the second flew displays during the trade days. The L-15 is a Chinese-built lead-in fighter trainer. Zambia has received three of six ordered so far.
Exhibiting for the first time at AAD, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) is marketing the Super Mushshak light basic piston trainer. The Super Mushshak undertook daily displays and took part in the airshow as well. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) recently finalised the purchase of 10 Super Mushshak trainers. Deliveries are expected in early 2017.
A full scale replica of the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car was on display at AAD 2016. The car has been designed to break the 1000mph barrier on land for the first time. Powered by jet and rocket engines, the Bloodhound SSC will attempt to break the world land speed record at Haksteen Pan in the Northern Cape.
The United States brought a KC-135 Stratotanker, a C-17 Globemaster III, a pair a C-130J Hercules and the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle. These were on static display. The C-130J is marketed as a solution to the SAAF’s need for transport, aerial refuelling and maritime patrol aircraft. Lockheed Martin believe there is a significant role for the C-130J in South Africa.
The Portuguese Air Force flew in an Airbus C295 transport aircraft. Airbus believes the aircraft will make a good replacement for the C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft and C212 light transports currently in service.
A consortium led by Atlantis Aviation is offering South Africa maritime surveillance aircraft on a short to medium term basis, and displayed a Dornier 328 aircraft in support of this.
Although South Africa does not seem in a hurry to commit to new acquisitions, Airbus has had better luck in other African countries. Ghana, Egypt and Mali are some of the Airbus C295’s customers. This year, Mali will receive a single example, while Egypt will receive the last of the 24 it has on order. Likewise, there are around 120 C-130s and L-100s (the civilian cargo version) operating in Africa. However, Tunisia is the only African country to have order the C-130J Super Hercules so far.
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 made its South African debut at AAD as well. It is a product of the Russian UAC aerospace company and has been flying regional routes in central and Eastern Europe since 2011. It can carry up to 150 passengers and may elicit interest from African airlines looking to operate on regional routes.
As usual, a variety of flying activities, as well as ground-based demonstrations, took place during the trade days. Some demonstrations were done for the benefit of prospective buyers, whereas others showed off the capabilities of various vehicles and aircraft to the trade visitors in general. Validation flights for the airshow also took place during this time. Although not run according to any schedule, there was nevertheless a lot to keep everybody entertained.
Here is the full photo gallery from the trade days, which includes photos of the aircraft on static display and the exhibition stands, as well as the flying action:
As always, the weekend was reserved for the airshow. A full day of flying took place on the Saturday. Sunday’s programme, however, was ruined by the weather. Rain showers and low clouds severely curtailed the flying and the airshow was called off in the early afternoon.
Both days started off with a procession of emergency vehicles, which was accompanied by a Netcare 911 Bell 222 helicopter and an Oryx and Agusta 109LUH from the SAAF. The opening address on the Saturday was delivered by the Chief of the South African Air Force, Lt Gen “Zakes” Msimang. The Golden Eagles parachute team then took the CAF’s salute.
On Saturday, the flying programme kicked off with Andrew Blackwood-Murray in the Zlin.
The international participants got early display slots. The Sudanese SAFAT 02 helicopter and SAFAT 03 light trainer were displayed, followed by the Pakistani Super Mushshak. More information on these aircraft can be found above. The other international airshow participant, a Zimbabwean K-8 trainer, flew later during the day.
Other morning action was provided by Nigel Hopkins in his Extra 330SC, the Pitts Specials of Team Torre and jet action in the form of the Atlas Impala.
The Paramount K9 Dog Demonstration showcased the skills of the Paramount Group’s anti-poaching canine unit. Two Gazelle helicopters were used in the display. Of special interest was Arrow, the world’s first skydiving anti-poaching dog. He made his maiden jump with handler Henry Holsthyzen on the Friday. Arrow was specially selected as a puppy for his temperament and trained to descend from a helicopter by rope, strapped to Holsthyzen, and finally, to skydive. The Paramount dogs are mainly being trained for anti-poaching operations, and are thus able to track poachers, attack them if necessary and sniff out evidence such as rhino horn and spent cartridges.
The South African Air Force Museum, based at the nearby AFB Swartkop, showcased some of the military aircraft no longer in service with the SAAF. This year, they flew full displays with their Puma helicopter, a Piaggio Albatross and two Alouette IIIs. A formation flypast consisted of three Harvards, the Albatross and a Bosbok.
For those longing back to bygone days, a further treat was a full display by one of the South African Airways Historic Flight’s DC4s. Two of the historic flight’s DC4s were at Waterkloof for the day, together with a DC3. All the aircraft returned to Rand airport in the afternoon and performed fly-pasts on their way back.
Other ex-SAAF aircraft in action, although not nearly as old, were the Dawid Laas owned Impala and a Denel Cheetah D. Both these aircraft were flown by Denel test pilot Mike Weingartz.
The South African Air Force participated in the mini war with most of the aircraft types in its service. Loud explosions accompanied the movements of ground forces and the skies were filled with fighter jets and combat helicopters. Troops and artillery were deployed by transport aircraft and helicopters and rescue operations of “injured” troops were undertaken. Proceedings ended with a mass evacuation of troops and vehicles from the “combat area”.
The Rooivalk helicopter, Hercules C130, Hawk and Gripen also performed individually and all four acts included the shooting of flares. This always makes for an excellent photo opportunity for all present. Fourty Five South African ‘parabats’ jumped from the C-130 in the late afternoon before its display. Two Bk117s also flew a joint display.
Lt Col Craig Leeson, Officer Commanding 85 CFS, was the Hawk solo display pilot for the week and the solo Gripen displays were flown by Lt Col Musa Mbhokota, the outgoing Officer Commanding of 2 Squadron.
Another highlight was the 2 vs 1 display. Two Gripens hunted down a Hawk, who was the aggressor in this air combat scenario. The display ended with a flypast by all three jets.
Both Kulula and Mango Airlines sent 737-800s to participate in the airshow. The Mango aircraft also flew a formation display with the Silver Falcons.
Harvard action came in the form of a show by the Flying Lions led as always by Scully Levin.
The Harvard Club of South Africa also sent a 4-ship of Harvards.
Other displays included the high impact aerobatics of Nigel Hopkins in his Extra330SC, the much more gentle flight of the old lady of the skies, the Antonov An-2 “Little Annie” and a performance of the Goodyear Eagles in their Pitts Specials. Nigel Hopkins also flew a formation display with Jason Beamish in the Extra 300.
As mentioned above, the Sunday programme was ruined by the weather. Several attempts were made to get some flying in and Andrew Blackwood Murray flew his Zlin display after the opening parade, followed by Glen Warden in the L-29. Rain showers and a low cloud base then halted proceedings. An hour and a half later, the Impala managed to display but when the mini war was just about to start, the heavens really opened up. The Flying Lions performed their flat show after another break, but flying activites were eventually called to an end at about 1 pm, there being no prospect of improvements to the weather. The few spectators that remained could still visit the halls and view the static aircraft on display. The Sunday weather meant that spectator attendance was down from previous AADs, but the event had nevertheless been a success.
Below is the full photo gallery of the airshow: