Air Force to miss 2015 upgrade deadline?

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The South African Air Force seems set to miss its 2015/16 deadline to replace its venerable fleet of medium transports including the Douglas C47 Dakota, the CASA C212, CASA C235 and the Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules. All were previously set for retirement and replacement around that time. But no funds seem allocated for any replacements in the three years to March 2014.

The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) released by the National Treasury last month notes an increase of 21.6% in the Transport and Maritime Capability subprogramme, but this “will provide for the upgrade of the [Dassault] Falcon 900 project and the increased serviceability of the C130 aircraft capability.” An increase of 23.9% in the Operational Support and Intelligence Capability subprogramme will provide for the implementation of protection systems at air force bases, units and deployed elements, while the increase in expenditure of 22.9% in 2011/12 in the Command and Control Capability subprogramme is due to the delivery milestones of the replacement of aircraft rescue and fire vehicles project.

Overall, the ENE note the spending focus over the MTEF period will be on creating and restoring capacity and capabilities to supply prepared forces and to support these forces once deployed. Expenditure decreased from R7.3 billion in 2007/08 to R5.5 billion in 2010/11, at an average annual rate of 8.9%, due to the completion of the strategic defence procurement programme. Expenditure is expected to increase to R7 billion in 2013/14, at an average annual rate of 8.2%. Expenditure in the Helicopter Capability subprogramme is expected to decrease from R934.4 million to R552.4 million over the MTEF period, at an average annual rate of 16.1% due to the completion of the
[Denel CSH2A] Rooivalk support helicopter project [Project Impose] and the [Denel M1] Oryx operational helicopter upgrading project [Project Drummer].

The SAAF Strategic Direction subprogramme has a staff complement of 42, and a total budget of R14.5 million, of which 65.9% will be used for compensation of employees. Operational Direction provides operational direction to the programme by means of air command. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 915, and a total budget of R129.9 million, of which 32.1% will be used for repairs and maintenance of equipment and 45.6% for fuel. In 2009/10, SAAF personnel ensured that, as planned, aircraft were available 76.4% of the time daily and 98.7% of planned flying hours were flown, translating to 32 866 hours. Exercises with foreign countries included participation in a SADC exercise (Golfinho) at Lohatlha in the Northern Cape and Namibia as well as a bi-national exercise with the German air force and navy off the Western Cape.

The helicopter subprogramme has a staff complement of 454 and a total budget of R743.6 million, of which 49.5% will be used for repairs and maintenance of equipment and 27.8% for capital acquisition. In 2009/10, the last three of 30 A109 light utility helicopters were delivered, and were fully released to service with the four Lynx helicopters delivered in 2007.

The transport and maritime subprogramme has a staff complement of 341, and a total budget of R617 million, of which 52.5% is used for repairs and maintenance of equipment and 17.8% for compensation of employees. In 2009/10, squadrons were available according to force requirements, as planned.

The air combat subprogramme has a staff complement of 188 and a total budget of R1.9 billion, of which 86.6% will be used for capital acquisition: the final payment for the SAAF’s SAAB Gripen fleet. “In 2009/10, the unit [2 Squadron] became fully operational for combat training, nine two-seat
and two single-seat Gripen aircraft were delivered, and the Gripen aircraft system was qualified to deliver bombs and missiles. Squadrons were available according to force requirements, as planned.”

The operational support and intelligence capability prepares, develops, provides and supports protection support, intelligence systems and counter intelligence support to the South African Air Force through protection squadrons, intelligence subsystems and intelligence training unique to the air force. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 903, and a total budget of R284 million, of which 59.4% will be used for compensation of employees and 34% for capital acquisition.

The command and control capability supplies and maintains operationally ready command and control elements in support of air battle space operations. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 427, and a total budget of R341 million, of which 33.9% will be used for compensation of employees and 39.6% for capital acquisition. In 2009/10, the South African Air Force and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services deployed and integrated a network of radars, observation posts and electronic warfare sensors across South Africa to detect and monitor compliance with published restrictions.

The Base Support Capability provides air base infrastructure facilities to squadrons and resident units on bases, including the maintenance of all relevant systems and personnel, to support flying operations. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 4 294, and a total budget of R1.4 billion, of which 84% will be used for compensation of employees.

The Air Force Command Post renders command and control over all missions flown. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 119, and a total budget of R49 million, of which 71.2% will be used for compensation of employees. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2367 personnel were deployed and under the command of the South African Air Force. Also in 2010/11, 12 921 pilots were screened, of which 6 requests were rejected, and a total of 64 739 clearances were issued. In 2009/10, the South African Air Force made 43 flights in support of fire fighting operations, 32 flights for medical and casualty evacuations, 12 flights searching for people, aircraft and vessels, and three flood relief flights.

The SAAF Training Capability provides for the general education, training and development of South African Air Force personnel. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 2 515, and a total budget of R681 million, of which 49.3% will be used for compensation of employees and 41.6% for machinery and equipment. In 2009/10, 1734 learners attended planned courses.

The Technical Support Services establishes, maintains and prepares optimised technical and tactical logistic support capabilities to provide support to system groups and manage air service units. The subprogramme has a staff complement of 1169, and a total budget of R639 million, of which 49.7% will be used for compensation of employees and 39.6% for outsourced catering services.

In the coming year the SAAF must defend and protect South Africa and its airspace by providing:
– four helicopter squadrons and one combat support squadron per year
– three medium transport squadrons (including one VIP squadron), one maritime and transport squadron, one light transport squadron and nine reserve squadrons at the required readiness levels per year
– one air combat squadron per year
– a 24-hour air command and control capability.

Audited

Revised estimate

Estimated

FY2007/8

FY2008/9

FY2009/10

FY2010/11

FY2011/12

FY2012/13

FY2013/14

Strategic direction

R11.667m

R12.544m

R13.726m

R17.354m

R14.787m

R16.750m

R17 769m

Operational direction

R169.527m

R170.737m

R141.476m

R102.514m

R129.896m

R141.422m

R171.074m

Helicopter capability

R1232.116m

R166.509m

R768.117m

R934.428m

R743.639m

R626.841m

R552.365m

Transport & Maritime

R851.677m

R1723.912m

R2670.325m

R547.766m

R616.914m

R963.996m

R984.939m

Air Combat

R3133.659m

R2833.275m

R2535.968m

R785.415m

R1894.967m

R1981.429m

R1647.827m

Operational support & Intelligence

R143.421m

R146.123m

R204.590m

R243.528m

R283.512m

R446.376m

R462.851m

C2

R200.067m

R203.020m

R223.897m

R277.408m

R340.804m

R369.140m

R367.143m

Base support

R783.237m

R1013.672m

R1116.786m

R1323.412m

R1375.167m

R1454.191m

R1528.448m

Command Post

R32.068m

R41.748m

R40.970m

R45.345m

R49.013m

R51.019m

R55.368m

Training

R237.675m

R258.597m

R383.838m

R604.131m

R680.908m

R491.498m

R502.387m

Technical Support

R519.668m

R449.642m

R544.069m

R655.116m

R638.826m

R674.111m

R716.922m

TOTAL

R7314.782m

R8018.779m

R8643.762m

R5536.417m

R6768.133m

R7216.773m

R7007.093m

Change to Feb 2010 budget estimate:

Down R522.709m

Down R1142.358m

Down

R1145.147m

Down

R1814.733m

Audited

Revised estimate

Estimated

FY2007/8

FY2008/9

FY2009/10

FY2010/11

FY2011/12

FY2012/13

FY2013/14

Salaries

R1502.345m

R1636.799m

R1885.079m

R2416.945m

R2456.460m

R2640.846m

R2820.683m

Specil Defence Account

R4537.886m

R4924.284m

R5167.580m

R1407.359m

R2418.697m

R2802.408m

R 2,290.46

Force employment hours flown per year

12 271

11 099

12 754

9500*

8279

9500*

10 402

9500*

8862

9500*

9452

9500*



* Comparative figure in the February 2010 ENE