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News Letter 13 September 2019

Good day all

After a very busy weekend at Swartkops Airshow we are poised for another busy one, with three events taking place in the Gauteng region alone.

The Annual RV Fly-in is set to take place at Kitty Hawk aerodrome on Saturday 14 September, the popularity of this event has been climbing year on year. If you are an avid Vans RV fan there is no other place to be this weekend.

The Airplane Factory will be hosting their annual fly-in breakfast at their home base Tedderfield Airpark. Slings are expected from all over the country. A Spot Landing competition will be held on for everyone arriving between 8:00 and 9:00.

SAPFA will be hosting the Superior Pilots Service Grand Central Fun Rally at Grand Central Airport on Saturday morning. If you feel like testing your flying and navigational knowledge this is definitely the place to be.

Could the SAAF become an air wing?

Parliamentarians were given six reasons for the decline in the airborne arm of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) which could eventually see the “air force” becoming an “air wing”.

This uncomfortable scenario was sketched out to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence by SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief, Lieutenant General Fabian ‘Zakes’ Msimang, during an oversight visit to Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town.

He pointed out since the acquisition of new prime mission equipment in the form of Gripen, Hawk and Agusta A109 aircraft in the late nineties, the SAAF saw its overall situation go from “affordable aviation” coupled with a “can do” attitude and ethos to “unaffordable aviation”. This trend has been manifesting itself more and more since the 2013/14 financial year and led SAAF management identifying a crisis as coming.

Indicators of this are general inflation, aviation specific inflation, the exchange rate particularly Rand/Dollar, an increase in air operations, continued budget cuts, a decay in industry and, what he termed a decay in morale.

A possible end state, given prevailing circumstances, would see the “air force” disappear to become an “air wing” with no assets, apart from personnel.

He told committee members at the base – at one stage earmarked for possible closure – that the air defence programme for the current financial year was allocated R5.9 billion. When measured against a full cost of more than R13 billion, this was a shortfall of more than R7 billion.

“Budget allocation to the SANDF and the SAAF must be looked into urgently. Underfunding and continuous budget cuts have immediate and long term consequences on the SANDF mandate in terms of its air defence obligations,” his presentation read, in part.

Other areas affected include force preparation and readiness, air border security, support to government departments, VVIP transport capability and recapitalisation of the older components of the SAAF fleet. Top of the list are the now 80-year-old C-47TPs operated by 35 Squadron from the Cape Town air force base closely followed by the C-130BZs flown by 28 Squadron at Air Force Base Waterkloof. The first seven of these four-engined transport workhorses were acquired in 1963 with another five arriving in 1997/98. There are currently only nine in the fleet.

Courtesy of Defenceweb

Qatar Airways to Purchase Stake in TAAG Angola Airlines

Qatar Airways, the state-owned airline of Qatar, is interested in acquiring a 39% stake of the also state-owned TAAG – Linhas Aéreas de Angola,

from the sub-Saharan nation of Angola according to information published by Novo Jornal in Angola.

Though 39% would not grant to Qatar the position of the majority shareholder of the airline, the newspaper states the Qatari airline will be responsible for managing the Angolan company. The Angola state would keep most of the stocks, with 51 percent and workers of the transportation sector could be granted the remaining 10 percent.

According to Novo Jornal, the sale is part of “Propriv,” a privatization program of the government and should be concluded by 2021.

TAAG is an airline with negative financial results year after year and its concession to private agents has been in discussion for a considerable time period. With a hub in the Angolan capital, Luanda, sources state the airline has an unnecessarily big staff and an oversized fleet that is not well managed in terms of route decisions and distribution.

To confront the deficit, Emirates Airline was called to manage the airline in 2015 but in July 2017 the airline announced its immediate withdrawal from the agreement, claiming “prolonged difficulties faced in the repatriation of revenues,” according to Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negócios.

According to the local newspaper, Mercado reported that the Angolan Ministry of Transports denied such negotiations. However, this past Sunday Qatar Airways announced the startup of flights connecting its hub in Doha to Luanda, TAAG’s hub. The same source stated that this flight will be operated in codeshare between the two airlines after a cooperation agreement between the two nations on that matter was signed in February.

In its turn, Qatar Airways is already known in the industry for holding stakes in other airlines. The company has shares of International Airlines Group (IAG), LATAM Group, Cathay Pacific, Air Italy and China Southern.

The US Air Force's A-10 Warthog lethal new upgrades

Fresh off a fraught decade-long rewinging effort, the Air Force's beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet is poised to keep on BRRRTing in the free world for at least another decade — and the beloved attack aircraft will pick up some tasty new upgrades along the way.

Personnel at Air Combat Command are currently working to integrate the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB I) on all A-10 airframes as part of the Common Fleet Initiative (CFI) that, initiated in August 2018, is designed to bring the decades-old fleet "back to a common baseline" for ongoing operations.

"GBU-39 munitions have proven to be highly-desired weapons in ongoing conflicts, and the addition of this weapon to the A-10's arsenal will greatly improve the flexibility of ground commanders," Alexi Worley, an ACC spokesman, told Task & Purpose.

"Adding the GBU-39 will continue efforts to keep the A-10 relevant in ongoing and future conflicts, where versatility in weaponeering is critical to meeting ground commander needs."

Military aviation magazine Combat Aircraft first reported news of the SDB integration on Sept. 5, noting that a new "multi-target engagement capability" will make the A-10 "theoretically ... able to target 18 weapons individually" while hauling four SDBs on a single hardpoint.

First introduced to Air Force inventory back in 1976, the A-10 had earned a reputation as a close air support workhorse among infantry troops for the distinctive roar of its GAU-8/A Avenger gatling gun. And while Worley said that no particular weapons were "expressly covered" in the CFI, the clear focus of the initiative is on enhancing the airframe's overall lethality.

Those enhancement include a new high-definition cockpit display that will improve the A-10's ability to find and fix targets from greater distances, jam-resistant GPS, an improved communication suite, and a three-dimensional surround-sound audio system that, according to a November 2018 request for information, will "drastically improve the spatial, battlespace, and situational awareness" for pilots.

"While Air Combat Command continually seeks new and improved weapons for all its fighter aircraft, A-10 planners and programmers are also keeping an eye out for which new weapons will prove useful to ground commanders," Worley said.

While Combat Aircraft reported that the A-10 was set to receive "a Synthetic Aperture Radar pod," Worley told Task & Purpose that ACC has "only conducted initial suitability studies and [has] not yet made a final determination."

Worley did confirm, however, that A-10 pilots are now outfitted with an improved helmet mounted Hybrid Optical-based Inertial Tracker (HObIT) site that more accurately responds pilot head movements.

The first A-10 airframes are set to receive the first batch of modifications as early as fiscal year 2020.


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