SAAF A109 deployed to Richards Bay for Ex Shared Accord


The South African Air Force has deployed an Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopter to Richards Bay for Exercise Shared Accord currently underway between the US military and South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Captain Jacques de Vries reported that the A109 from 17 Squadron arrived in Richards Bay on 12 July. The helicopter was piloted by Major M L Traut accompanied by Flight Engineer, Corporal H J Engelbrecht, and flew from Air Force Base Swartkop in Pretoria to their penultimate stop at 121 South Africa Infantry Battalion (121 SAI Bn) in Mtubatuba before arriving at Richards Bay Airport.

The current edition of Exercise Shared Accord is being staged out of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal and is a Multi-National Peace Support Operation (PSO) and Humanitarian Relief Exercise that is being conducted between the SANDF the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF).

The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) is busy rolling out primary health care, dental, optometry and veterinary care to the local community for the exercise.

Around 700 military personnel – the bulk of 600 from the four SANDF services – are being deployed, while around 45 US personnel are in South Africa for the duration of the exercise.

Previous editions were successfully hosted in 2011 and 2013 out of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and in 2017 at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in the Northern Cape.

The Exercise Shared Accord 2022 main effort is medical support to the local population and own forces, as well as military-specific drills.

The humanitarian component of this year’s Shared Accord has as its hub the Umhlathuze local municipality, which includes parts of Empangeni and Richards Bay. Eight clinics have been identified by military medics from both countries as sites where medical services will be available to local residents. These include ophthalmic and dental and are on offer from 5 July until 28 July when Shared Accord starts demobilising and returning to units.

On the tactical side, Shared Accord will see maritime force protection operations against conventional and asymmetric threats at sea and in harbours and air support operations to peace support operations (PSO) for landward forces. This, a source outside the SANDF told defenceWeb, will see handling air cargo destined for peace support operations taking place at Air Force Base (AFB) Bloemspruit, which shares runway facilities with Bram Fisher International, and Richards Bay airport on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coast.