Not two but three South African Air Force (SAAF) Hawks took part in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the National Address (SONA) in Cape Town on Thursday.
A salute flight was originally planned with two Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter-trainers over the Cape Town City Hall, but in the end three of the jets from 85 Combat Flying School flew overhead before Ramaphosa delivered his sixth State of the Nation Address.
As per tradition, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) provided ceremonial honours to Ramaphosa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF. The centrepiece of the SANDF presence was the National Ceremonial Guard (NCG) with its precision drill.
As part of the SANDF elements outside the City Hall (the replacement venue for the SONA after Parliament was damaged by fire), the SAAF deployed members for street lining, step guard, band, and as door openers. The bulk of these members came from Air Force Bases Ysterplaat, Langebaanweg, and Overberg.
The three Hawks were provisionally stationed at Air Force Base Ysterplaat for the duration of the SONA. They are normally based at Air Force Base Makhado in Limpopo.
The salute flight was performed simultaneously with the 21 gun salute and the national anthem. This year’s salute flight was performed by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Logie (Officer Commanding 85 CFS and leader of the Hawk formation), Major Michael Vermeulen (Operational Training Course Student), and Major Kgosimang Seeco (Flight Commander 85 CFS), the SANDF said.
“The participation of the SA National Defence Force in the SONA symbolises the armed force’s commitment to the constitutional values of the country’s democracy. It is meant to assure the Republic and its people that the SANDF is ready and able to respond to any call of national duty from the Commander-in-Chief. The…21 gun salute is afforded to the sitting Commander-in-Chief as a ceremonial sign of respect and honour,” the SANDF explained.