The repair of South African Air Force C130BZ aircraft number 402 has apparently cost taxpayers over R5.2 million since 2008, according to a reading of the Armscor tender bulletin system.
The aircraft was damaged in October 2004 during taxi exercises testing a new braking system at OR Tambo International Airport next door to the Denel Aviation facility where the massive turboprop was at the time undergoing an upgrade under Project Ebb.
Damage was at the time estimated “in the millions of Rand”. The media afterwards reported an equally damaging dispute between Denel and Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge in the UK as to whom had to carry the cost of the repairs. Marshall was the prime contractor for the Ebb upgrade with Denel allocated much of the work as a skills transfer.
The upgrade for the seven aircraft SA acquired in 1963 and a further three transferred from 1997 commenced in December 1996. The aircraft were to be fitted with, inter alia, digital avionics in the place of the electromechanical. The upgrade was not without delay and ran seven years past its expected date of completion, set for June 2002: the project wrapped up as late as July 2009.
It is not clear why taxpayers are now paying for the repair of aircraft 402. The Armscor bulletin system notes Denel Aviation was awarded R 22 028 on July 21 for “service, rectification and engineering support during recovery of the SAAF C-130BZ aircraft 402.” The contract is an extension of EVLI/2007/378 that has seen R5 281 523 sent since May 2008.
The Department of Defence and SA Air Force had not by the time of publication responded to e-mailed requests for comment.
Pic:A SAAF C130BZ at AFB Waterkloof in 2006.