The Rand Easter show is currently underway at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg and as always, the SANDF is one of the main exhibitors. Unfortunately, this year their participation isn’t what it has been in previous years, especially the SAAF. This could be due to a number of reasons one of them being many of the SAAF assets are currently deployed in Mozambique and Malawi in the aftermath of Cyclone Ida which ravaged the area last month. Another reason may be the budget restraints as this years Armed Forces Celebrations in Cape Town must have put sever strain on what remained of the flying budget for the year.
One of the Agusta A109’s that was to be displayed at the show was involved in a serious incident near Swartkops AFB on its return from a validation flight for the show last week. The A109 crashed at the intersection of two very busy roads on Thursday afternoon in what appears to be some kind of mechanical failure. The two crew members on board were airlifted to Unitas Hospital by a SAAF Oryx helicopter.
The 125th Rand Easter Show was opened by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, in her address she thanked all the uniformed personnel for their commitment to serving the people of South Africa.
“I am delighted and honoured to be amongst the men and women in the uniform-our country’s armed forces. Our soldiers have been patriotically exhibiting and showcasing their capabilities at this crowd – pulling event without fail since 2011 and endeared themselves to visitors from all walks of life, educating our people about the military’s role in society and towards the defence of our constitutional dispensation.” She said.
Her address was concluded with a flypast of the pride of the SAAF a JAS39D Gripen flown by Major Lee-Roy ‘Shinobi” Goosen and Major Kevin ‘Safron’ Chetty. The Minister then joined the Chief of the SAAF , Lt Gen Fabian 'Zakes' Msimang, in a good will visit to the two injured crew members at Unitas Hospital.
The SANDF Capability Demonstration, a definite crowd puller, sketches a scenario and the forces are deployed to counteract the developments. The scenario this year was an ambush of a peace keeping convoy in foreign territory. Two Ratel 90 armoured vehicles gave support fire power while a single 2 Squadron Gripen simulated airstrikes. Mortar strikes echoed in the arena as the crowds were treated to pyrotechnics set off by the army engineers. While the counter attack was in progress the Army Engineers assembled and positioned a bridge for the evacuation of the ambushed vehicles.
Ground forces were reinforced with special forces skydivers dropped from a SAAF Casa 212 flown by Major Ashley Naxhe and Major Nick Green and Loadmaster flight Sergeant Ramajela. After the para drop the 44 Squadron Casa did a flypast over the arena before departing for AFB Waterkloof.
The Silver Falcons closed off the airborne part of the military display with their usual polished display of formation aerobatics in their Pilatus PC7MKII’s. Sliver Falcon Team #82 led by Major Omphile Matloane, Tiaan Stander, Corne Deventer, Bheki Shabangu and the soloist Major Sivu Tangana have only been together for a short while but their display was as good as any other teams in the past.
The SA Army and Navy continued to entertain the crowd with a display of precision drill work. The Navy demonstrated their ceremonial gun followed by a Military Police anti hijacking display, SANDF Marshal Arts demonstration, SANDF K9 unit field patrol demonstration and a demonstration of SANDF Land rovers.
The Military displays were well manned by knowledgeable personnel ready to assist the public with any queries they might have regarding a career in any branch of the armed forces.