The South African Airforce celebrated their 98th birthday on Thursday 1 February to commemorate a Parade was held at Airforce Base Zwartkop. AFB Zwartkop is one of if not the oldest operational Airforce Bases in the world, it was officially opened in 1921 just a year after the inception of the SAAF.
The Parade, under the leadership of Parade Commander LtCol Monsto and Senior Master Warrant Officer SWO Sigwayi, marched on accompanied by the SAAF Band. Shortly after the Chief of the SAAF arrived LtGen F.Z Msimang, LtGen Msimang was the Revue Officer for this prestigious occasion.
The official proceedings started off with a general salute and salute flight performed by two Agusta A109’s Flying both the National and the SAAF flags, the A109 were from 17 and 19 Squadrons.
LtGen F.Z Msimang
Reading of the Military Code of Conduct is a tradition that has been around since the inception of the SAAF all those years ago. The Parade was then officially opened with prayer and a scripture reading by the Chaplain of the Airforce Colonel Makalima.
Reading of the Military Code of Conduct
LtGen Msimang then conducted an inspection of the parade, the inspection starts with the Colours Squadron, the "Colours" of all the active Squadrons of the Airforce are proudly displayed by the members on parade.
Inspection of the parade
No sooner had the Chief returned to the podium, when the parade marched past in Columns of flights, seeing this sort of military discipline renews the confidence in the SAAF as a whole, LtGen Mismang accepted the Salute as flight after flight marched past once again accompanied by the SAAF Band troop.
SAAF Band troop
Flight march past
The hold a formal Pristige prize giving dinner the night before the Prestige Day Parade where all but one of the units, departments and individuals are awarde prizes in recognition of their achievements for the preceding year. The Airforce Base of the year finalists unfortunately have to wait until the parade to hear if they managed to receive the coveted title of "AFB of the year". The winners of this Prestigious awared for 2017 was AFB Langebaanweg BrigGen Matanda commanding officer of Langabaanweg accepted the floating trophy.
BrigGen Matanda and LtGen Msimang
LtGen Msimang then addressed the large audience and the members on parade. After bidding a warm welcome to all present including His Majesty, Vhavenda King Mphephu Ramabulana and LtGen (Ret) Matanzima, Gen Msimang touched of items of interest to the SAAF. Msimang described the Role of the SANDF as the Nations Insurance Policy and it is the responsibility of every member to ensure that the policy does not lapse.
" Fellow South Africans, as the Defence Force we are here to serve, safeguard our National Interests, protect our territorial integrity and be the first line of defence to protect you when the need arises. In this time of great global tension, being ready will mean the difference between captiulating and maintaining sovereignty through deterrence or victory." Misimang said.
LtGen Msimang highlighted all areas where the SAAF assets were involved in 2017.
- The opening of Parliment
- Armed Forces Day in Durban
- Air Power Demonstration at Roodewal
- Exercise Winter Solstice
- Collaboration with the SA Navy in anti piracy efforts in the Mozambique Channel
- Firefighting specifically the rampant vicious fires in the Knysna and Port Elizabeth areas
- Operation Mistral support of the SANDF deployment in the DRC
- SADC exercises such as Blue Kunene held in Namibia and exercises held in Tanzania
- SAAF C47TP participated in Exercise Oxide on Reunion Island in support of the SA Navy.
LtGen Msimang also commited the SAAF to AAD 2018, "As we go into the 10th installment of the African Showpiece AAD 2018, we look forward to increased participation of our African brothers and sisters, both as exhibitors as well as in the air display programme"
LtGen Msimang laid out the focus areas for 2018
Ethics - The rolling out of ethics training is in full swing at the SAAF HQ level, Training will filter to touch each and every member of the South African Air Force.
Chess - In 2017 the first series of chess tournements and workshops were launched. Through chess new leaders will be groomed to have potent decision making arsenals.
The Education Plan - In 2018 The SAAF will be taking hands with Military Academy and other higher institutions of learning as the Airforce prepares to set up an Airforce Academy of Excellence a graduate and post graduate programme.
Social cohesion - Continue to create the space to develop understanding of our shared history to align to the 2020 vision of social cohesion.
Outreach - growing number of pilots, engineers and technicians are coming from townships and rural areas. The SAAF outreach visit to Eldoradopark on spring day created a hive of activity.
The CAF concluded with a message to all SAAF Members, "To the Airforce members and their families - a happy home maketh a happy soldier. I continue to call on collaborative team work among chaplains, members of multi professional team and the spouces' forum corporately and at base levels. The Resilience Programme should expand more efficiently on all the bases. For us to live our vision of AN AIRFORCE THAT INSPIRES CONFIDENCE, we must take care of our members holistically - we must lead with compassion and yes with discipline.
The Mass Flypast the continued the first wave of aircraft was a very impressive formation of seven helicopters, led by three Atlas Oryxes, followed by three Agusta A109's and a Atlas Rooivalk.
Next up was the 44 Squadron Casa 212 followed closely by a Pilatus PC12 from 41 Squadron. Followed closely by the SAAF's "Cockpit Ambassadors" the Silver Falcons.
The mighty 28 Squadron was next with the beautiful Hurcules C130 followed by a Jet formation of two 2 Squadron Gripens joined by two BAE Hawks form 85 Combat Flying School.
Gripen and Hawk formation
The Parade then marched off led once again by the Colours Squadron and accompanied by the SAAF Band. Happy Birthday to the South African Airforce may your long heritage proudly continue.