Centurion-based aerospace company Aerosud is helping to keep the South African Air Force’s shrinking fleet of Douglas C47TP airborne. It was last week awarded a R357 894 contract for “product support” for the ancient medium transport.
The SAAF received its first C47s in 1943 and they were employed as transport in the Italian campaign of World War Two as well as for ferry duties in the Mediterranean theatre. After the war, the aircraft were deployed to support the Berlin Air Lift. Between June 1948 and May 1949 some 1.5 million tons of cargo was carried into the blockaded city aboard some 200 000 flights.
In the early 1990s about 11 were modernised with, inter alia turboprops replacing the piston engines. The aircraft remain in service with 35 Squadron, based in Cape Town, with medium transport as well as maritime patrol duties. The type is set to continue flying in SAAF colours until 2015 when it will be replaced with an acquisition made as part of Project Saucepan.
The latest contract, awarded July 29, takes the amount spent through Aerosud on keeping the C47s flying to R8 915 152 since April 2007.