A South African Air Force (SAAF) training jet was badly damaged in a landing incident on Thursday.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120 jet trainer, operated by 85 Combat Flying School, was on final approach to land at AFB Makhado when it experienced a trim problem.
An unidentified source said that the “trim jammed (the) aircraft into (a) downwards attitude right before touch down and there was no time to correct.”
The aircraft “hit (the) runway very hard,” resulting in the aircraft bouncing back into the air. The subsequent landing damaged the landing gear, causing a portion of the gear to break off. The aircraft then slid along the runway before coming to a halt.
As the damaged aircraft blocked the runway, other aircraft that were still in the air were forced to land on the taxiway. This was safely accomplished as when the airbase was built in the 1980’s, the taxiway was designed to operate as a secondary runway in the event of the main runway being blocked or damaged.
AFB Makhado is situated near the town of Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. 85 Combat Flying School is equipped with the remaining 23 Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) Hawk jets of the 24 delivered as part of the 1999 Strategic Defence Package (SDP).
The other flying squadron operating from the base is 2 Squadron, equipped with the SAAB Gripen light fighter.
No statement has yet been received from the SAAF or SANDF.
The SAAF acquired 24 Hawk aircraft for R7.2 billion in 1999 with deliveries starting in 2006 and ending in 2008.
A Hawk was slightly damaged in March 2009 when it landed on a wet runway at Air Force Base Swartkop with a malfunctioning brake parachute and overran the end of the runway.