SAAF considering A400M alternative
The South African Air Force will shortly start considering alternatives to the Airbus A400M Loadmaster military air transport.
But Chief of the Air Force Lt Carlo Gagiano says there is not much out there to choose from.
"We are at a stage where we urgently need to consider [alternatives]," Gagiano told journalists on the sidelines of an air capability demonstration yesterday.
"I tell you why I say that. If A400 – remember if - if A400 does not continue what will happen is that all the countries now buying A400 will scramble for something else.
"You find aircraft such as the [Lockheed Martin] C130J that their order books – how many aircraft are ordered for the next few years – their order books are full up to 2011, 2012.
"We have to make a decision. The C130BZ`s are now 46 years old," Gagiano says.
He adds the Air Force has received some A400 alternative offers.
"There are offers… But the thing is the reason government opted for the A400 is the large hull. We want to be able to fit in an Oryx [medium helicopter] by just taking off the rotor… There is no other aircraft that can do it, except the American [Boeing] C17 which is far too expensive and then the East European Illyushins and the Antonov. Those are the only available options if you want to transport the likes of the Oryx," Gagiano explained.
Gagiano says he would still prefer to have the A400M and would "like to get them as soon as possible because I think the design of this aircraft has huge potential."
Department of Defence head of communication Simphiwe Dlamini added that Project Continent, the A400M acquisition, is not only a military acquisition.
"The DoD is just one of three departments involved in monitoring the situation. This is not only a SANDF [SA National Defence Force] project… there are various players within the SA government and there are ongoing discussions with us, the key players, in the usage of this resource.
"This delay is causing us problems .. but this is not a decision that can be taken by the SANDF or Air Force. It is a decision that must be taken by government as a whole whether we continue with this or not," Dlamini said.
SA has so far paid R3 billion to Airbus for eight of the aircraft. SA`s order, due for delivery from next year, is one of nine for 192 aircraft.
Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey ordered 180 planes in 2003 at a fixed price cost of €20 billion. SA then ordered eight for R7.4 billion and Malaysia four.
At the time – 2003 – the project was described "as Europe's most ambitious cross-border arms procurement" and as one of the most expensive.
Development is currently said to be running at least four years behind schedule. Reports have variously blamed hubris at Airbus and problems with weight as well as engine and cockpit software for the holdups.
A flying prototype was built and unveiled last year. But it is not clear when it will achieve first flight.
Dlamini says "the matter is receiving attention at a very high level of government."
Gagiano adds that he is somewhat reluctant to believe everything he reads on the A400M. He notes there is a fair amount of dis- and misinformation in the public domain.
SA will presume its continuance ‘till the CEO of Airbus Military announces formally and communicates with our government" its demise.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders this weekend repeated his view that "under the current conditions we cannot build the plane." He added it would be better to make a painful break than draw out the agony.
Top stories this week
- New Navy patrol vessels can wait, but the fleet must have an operational budget – Heitman
- Pakistan/China Thunder over Africa?
- Cybicom puts Weapon Control Unit into SA Navy submarine simulator
- Two star admiral is acting Joint Ops Chief
- Airborne maritime surveillance will cost even if aircraft come for free – retired general
- Destitute migrants pile up in Djibouti as Yemen sends boats back
- US military strikes Yemen after missile attack on US Navy ship
- UAE says Houthi attack on ship in shipping lane was "act of terrorism"
- Libya force counter attacks at oil ports
- Blast kills 20 Yemeni government troops, six Qaeda militants dies in drone hit
- U.N. says 10,000 killed in Yemen war, far more than other estimates
- Suicide bomber kills 54 in Yemen attack
- Civil war costs Yemen $14 billion in damage and economic losses
- Yemen army pushes al Qaeda fighters from two cities, about 40 dead
- U.N. report on Yemen says Houthis used human shields, Islamic State got cash
Saab on display at Euronaval 2016
by Saab, 14 October 2016
The company will display its maritime surface and sub-surface capabilities, including mine warfare, at the event next week.
Thales named among top companies for the second year by the Dow Jones
by Thales, 12 October 2016
For the second year running, the group received the second-highest score in the aerospace and defence sector.
Saab signs RBS15 Mk3 teaming agreement with MESKO
by Saab, 7 October 2016
Saab will be responsible for the long-term maintenance and support of the Polish Navy's RBS15 Mk3 surface-to-surface missile system.