The SAAF's Roodewal Bombing range 45 kilometres north of Polokwane on Tuesday 18 February 2020 hosted the live-fire capability demonstration portion of the SANDF's Armed Forces week celebrations that kicked off on the 14th of February.
A spic and span Roodewal with the new pavilion seating in place. Members of the SANDF stand at attention for the arrival of the chief of the SANDF.
Smaller than the spectacular 2018 live-fire demonstration held at the de Brug practice range near Bloemfontein in the Free State, the demo at Roodewal included more material from the other arms of the SANDF than the usual SAAF Weapons Capability Demonstration hosted at the bombing range.
A Cessna Caravan with an electro-optical surveillance ball mounted on the side, circled the base throughout the proceedings beaming live action to two big screens placed on opposite ends of the flight line.
Pathfinders and other airborne forces including a doctor, in a tandem jump, to attend to a wounded soldier were parachuted from an Oryx helicopter.
The early part of the program was dominated by the land forces that included elements of infantry, anti-aircraft and artillery. Because of the size of Roodewal, that is primarily is a bombing range, no heavy artillery could be demonstrated.
Most of the SANDF's primary fighting vehicles, including the Ratel, Rooikat and Olifant main battle tank were demonstrated as well as some other lessor known specialty vehicles.
The SAAF joined in the fray by inserting ground forces and evacuating casualties by Agusta A109s and Oryx helicopters, dropping supplies from a Casa 212 and providing ground support from Rooivalk, Gripen and Hawk jets.
The battle raged on and as dusk fell, filling the sky with the sound and sight of flares, exploding mortars and anti-aircraft rounds streaking into the sky. Gripen, Rooivalk and the Oryx launched flares, the dusk sky a perfect backdrop for a perfect day.
Capability demonstrations are not just there to showcase the state of combat readiness of the SANDF but also serve as a vehicle for the various branches of the force to practice war scenarios and to retain its ability to fulfill its mandate to protect the citizens of the countries in time of peace and war.