Pakistan Air Force chief visits South Africa


The Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, has paid a friendly visit to South Africa and met his counterpart, Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang.

During the official visit last week, the Pakistan Air Force said matters of mutual interest were discussed, with Pakistan offering support in the field of training, amongst others.

Msimang lauded the Pakistan Air Force’s professionalism and efforts to acquire indigenously produced equipment such as the Super Mushshak, K-8 and JF-17. Both the air chiefs agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation and explore avenues of common interests.

During his arrival at South African Air Force Headquarters on 24 October, Khan was presented with an honour guard.

South Africa and Pakistan have shared close defence ties for some time now. In 1998 the two countries signed agreements concerning defence and defence equipment as well as peacetime cooperation between their respective navies.

In March last year, General Solly Shoke, Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), visited Air Headquarters, Naval Headquarters and the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) in Pakistan. Shoke also visited Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) on 24 March. POF manufactures assault rifles, machineguns, mortars, artillery pieces and ammunition as well as tanks and anti-tank ammunition, bombs and grenades and has exported its products to more than 40 countries around the world.

In March 2017, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula visited Pakistan where she signed a government-to-government defence co-operation agreement which includes industrial co-operation.

Pakistan and South Africa were to establish a joint defence committee that would “pave the way for strengthening and diversifying through formal structures, collaborative programmes, exchange of information and training of both officers and soldiers”.

Co-operation in research and development, technology transfer and co-production/joint ventures for both the public and private sectors were included in the memorandum of understanding.

According to the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, “due to sanctions and embargoes imposed against South Africa, the two countries did not officially initiate bilateral relations until after the end of apartheid in 1994. Since then the Pakistan/South Africa has been gaining momentum”.

Pakistan has expressed interest in South African military equipment. In 2016, the Pakistan Navy requested more information on the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto surface-to-air missile (SAM) and that same year Denel demonstrated its T5-52 self-propelled howitzer to the Pakistani military. Pakistani defence companies regularly attend the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition and in 2016 exhibited the Super Mushshak trainer for the first time at the show, after racking up a first order for the type in Africa, from the Nigerian Air Force.

Most recently, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited South Africa and met his counterpart, Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, in January this year. Bajwa pointed out that Pakistan and South Africa see the exchange of military students – Pakistan has also trained some South African personnel in special forces roles. Pakistan has procured ammunition from Rheinmetall Denel Munition and is looking to acquire more.

Pakistan and South Africa have looked at defence industrial collaboration for some time, especially since the April 2015 visit by Rana Tanveer Hussain, Pakistan’s Minister for Defence Production. Pakistan has a well-developed defence industry – for example Pakistan Ordnance Factory manufactures small arms, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex makes aircraft like the Super Mushshak and JF-17 Thunder, and Heavy Industries Taxila makes armoured vehicles, including tanks.