SAAF Air Capability Demonstration - 30 August 2012
By Juri Keyter & Deon Prins
The last time I was invited to attend the SAAF Air Capability Demonstration, we flew to Polokwane with a SAAF DC-9 with lots of bells & whistles. This time we flew on board an aircraft with real bells - a Hercules C130. One ring of the bell meant seatbelts fastened and two rings meant that seatbelts may be loosened. This was real flying and I was very happy that the SAAF transported us in the true SAAF style.
On our arrival Col Iyer introduced us to the commentary team and the first battle started between Col Iyer supporting the jets, Col Engelbrecht in favour of the helicopters and Col Matanda defending the importance of transport and the importance thereof. All in good spirit.
First up on the flying agenda was a recognisance flight by a Gripen performing low-level photography of the battlefield. Soon thereafter a dogfight ensued between a Hawk as the enemy with two Gripens engaging it. Lots of thrilling noise and spectacular flying!!
Ground supplies were dropped by a Casa and a C130 before the Special Forces and the ground troops were dropped with helicopters.
Two teams were firing mortars at regular intervals in support of the attack. The blasts were unexpected but exciting.
Oryx Helicopters also brought in additional equipment including a Gecko military vehicle to support the ground troops. You may ask why some troops ran behind an empty Gecko. Well, because they can!!! It's the army!!!
The jets were impressive and so were all the helicopters and transport aircraft. But the best of the lot, in my view anyway, was the support by the Rooivalk during the attack. The way they appear with canon and missile fire and then simply disappearing behind the bushes were very impressive.
The demonstration ended with a helicopter formation, a Hawk formation and a Gripen formation. How often do you get the chance to see 12 fighter jets in the air at the same time?