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News Letter 6 December 2018

Good day all

Seems we in for a busy weekend in the Northern part of the country, if the weatherman plays along and it’s not looking too good at the moment.

Brits Flying Club will be hosting the SAPFA National landing Championship on Saturday 8 December, if you feel like testing your Landing skills Brits is definitely the place to be.

If a more relaxing flight is what you after make your way to Witbank for a breakfast fly-in

Nelspruit’s airspace should be pretty busy on Saturday when the Nelspruit Airfield celebrate International Civil Aviation Day

Airbus unveils first base for its very high altitude UAV

Europe-based global aerospace and defence company Airbus Defence and Space announced in Australia on Monday that it had opened the first operational launch site for its Zephyr “High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite” (Haps) at the Western Australian town of Wyndham. The Zephyr is a very high (stratospheric) altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), powered by solar energy.

“The official opening of the Airbus Wyndham launch site in Western Australia, the world’s first operational Haps site, marks the start of a new era for Zephyr,” highlighted Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems head Ms Jana Rosenmann. “We are proud to see Australia become part of the Zephyr operational network.”

“I am delighted to welcome the Airbus team and their Zephyr project to Western Australia,” enthused Western Australia State Premier Mark McGowan. “This is the culmination of almost a year of hard work by Airbus and my government to bring this exciting and innovative technology to our state. The Zephyr aircraft provides new capabilities to commercial and military customers and will bring an economic boost to the East Kimberley region.”

Wyndham was chosen as the site because it provided mainly unrestricted airspace and dependable weather. “The site is our gateway to the stratosphere and will be the main flight base for Zephyr going forward,” affirmed Rosenmann.

Airbus sees the new launch site as introducing actual operations by the Zephyr S Haps. “Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,” stated Airbus. “It harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic; filling a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite-like services.”

The Zephyr will serve both civil and military customers. It will be able to provide observation, monitoring and communications capabilities and could potentially transform disaster management by monitoring such occurrences as oil spills or wildfires. In the surveillance role it can provide persistent coverage. In the communications role it can provide connectivity to areas that currently have none.

Denel suffers over R1.7bn loss, expects more in future

Denel told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday morning that it had made a loss of R1.7bn in 2018.

This sees the company’s revenue fall from R88.4bn in 2016/17 to barely over R8bn in 2017-18, and the company forecasts revenue will fall to just R4.9bn for the 2018/19 financial year.

The state-owned arms company has yet to submit an annual report for the 2017/18 financial year, with the Minister of Public Enterprises writing to Parliament to say it could not be tabled in time.

Denel bore the brunt of a major financial fallout due to mismanagement, as well as a deal it was tied into by previous leadership that exposed it to risks through companies like Denel Asia and VR Laser.

Denel chair Monhla Hlahla said the company had to re-examine the company's "balance sheet and goodwill", ultimately choosing to sacrifice some goodwill because it could no longer be justified on the balance sheet.

"There has been a R1.758bn loss. When you look at revenue performance there is a decline from R8bn to close to R5bn in the current year. The main reason is weak contract management, especially when it comes to procurement," said Hlahla.

Denel group financial controller Thandeka Sabela said, "For the first time in a long time it seems like a better future is possible. The clean-up of looking at our operations is done and we are ready to move ahead."

She said the company suffered a foreign exchange loss of R273m and onerous contracts to the tune of R100m.

Italy's F-35s First To Achieve IOC in Europe

On November 30, the chief of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI, Italian air force) announced that the service had achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the Lockheed Martin F-35A.

"Today is an important day for the Italian air force,” said Lieutenant General Alberto Rosso. “With the achievement of the IOC, we are the first in Europe to have a real operational capability with a fifth-generation aircraft.” Italian F-35s are now ready to join NATO and allied operations.

General Rosso made the announcement during the fourth iteration in 2018 of the Tactical Leadership Program, a course that brings together experienced crews and tactical aircraft from a variety of NATO air arms to conduct exercises that hone mission planning and leadership. TLP typically includes airborne early warning and ISR assets and this year involved E-3 AWACS aircraft from the NATO AEW Force and Italy’s own IAI/Gulfstream E-550A CAEW aircraft. The inclusion of the F-35As represented the first time that a fifth-generation aircraft had participated in the event. “It’s an important day also for the TLP course,” commented General Rosso. “It represents the first concrete integration between fourth- and fifth-generation systems, and is an important opportunity to improve and develop, together with other nations, the essential skills that air power must be able to express at international level.”

The AMI is the fourth service to declare IOC for the F-35, following the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, and Israel. Italy received its first F-35 on December 12, 2016, the first recipient of the aircraft outside of the United States. Currently, the nation has taken delivery of 11 F-35s, comprising two F-35As that are conducting training at Luke AFB, Arizona, a single F-35B that is in the U.S. for trials, and eight operational F-35As at Amendola in Italy. The latter are operated by 13° Gruppo (squadron) of the 32° Stormo (wing).

Since receiving its first aircraft, the 13° Gruppo has worked intensively to achieve IOC. In October 2017 the unit participated in the large-scale Vega exercise, during which two aircraft covered an amphibious landing. F-35s have undertaken missile firing campaigns at the range at Decimomannu in Sardinia. Following an intense period of training in scramble techniques and operating with other ground- and air-based air defense assets, IOC in the air defense role was declared on March 1, 2018, 13° Gruppo aircraft being integrated into Italy's Servizio di Sorveglianza dello Spazio Aereo (SSSA, airspace surveillance service), armed with AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM missiles. In June this year, 13° Gruppo deployed F-35As to Rivolto for Operation Lightning, during which they flew missions over the Polygon range in Germany as part of the campaign to achieve IOC in the air-to-ground role.

Italy has plans to acquire 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs, the latter to be split between the AMI and Italian navy. However, future Italian F-35 purchases toward that goal are far from certain in the current political and economic climate.


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