SAAF “aircraft launching systems” need work

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The SA Air Force (SAAF) is, according to Armscor, in need of maintenance and repair work on its “aircraft launching and landing systems”.

A tender – EARO/2021/135 – is currently live on the government-owned defence and security acquisition agency’s website with interested bidders asked to report to Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof in Centurion on Monday week (7 February) for a compulsory bidders’ briefing.

The Armscor tender document has it that “airfield runway systems (aircraft launching and landing systems) consist of runway lighting systems, approach systems, visual aids systems, emergency landing system and other operational systems”.

It further defines airfield systems as runway/taxiway/apron lighting circuits; runway/taxiway marker boards; runway/taxiway/apron pain (sic) markings; precision approach path indicators (PAPIs); constant current regulators (CCRs); aerodrome location beam (rotating beacon light), computerised MIMIC control system; runway/taxiway/apron crossing surveillance camera systems; aircraft movements gate systems; aerodrome traffic control systems; military helipad; windsock systems; obstruction lights; approach lights and military mobile runway lighting units.

Maintenance and repair of these systems is required for three years, between financial years 2021/22 and 2023/24.

Systems requiring maintenance include all runway lights and signage as well as airfield traffic control systems such as cameras, gates, windsocks etc.

Armscor notes aircraft launching and landing systems are installed at the Waterkloof, Makhado, Hoedspruit, Overberg, Ysterplaat, Langebaanweg, Bloemspruit, Durban and Swartkop bases as well as Air Force Station (AFS) Port Elizabeth.

Armscor has another tender (EARO/2021/136) out for the maintenance and repair of aircraft arrestor barrier systems (AABSs) for the air force. A bidders’ briefing will be held at Waterkloof on 7 February; closing date of the tender is 17 February.

Armscor is looking to replace/upgrade the AABSs at Overberg, Makhado and Waterkloof. Regular servicing and net replacement are required until 2023/24.

According to tender documentation, the AABS is “a land-based system, controlled by the ATC (air traffic controller) for fighter aircraft”. It is installed adjacent to the runway end, one unit per side, to safely arrest aircraft, preventing them from overshooting the end of the runway in the event of an aborted take-off or an emergency landing.

At present, the AABS consists of permanently installed static arrestor barrier systems.

The SAAF currently operates nine bases with at least three home to rotary-wing squadrons. They are Bloemspruit in Free State (16 Squadron and its Rooivalk combat support helicopters), AFB Durban in KwaZulu-Natal (15 Squadron still operates its Agusta A109 light utility and Oryx medium transport rotorcraft from the northern side of what was Durban International Airport, now basically a parking lot for various types of Toyota vehicles produced in nearby Prospecton), AFB Hoedspruit in Limpopo (19 Squadron, A109 and Oryx) and Centurion’s AFB Swartkop, also operating the same types.

AFB Langebaanweg is home to the Central Flying School and its PC-7 Mk IIs; AFB Makhado is home to 2 Squadron’s Gripens and the Hawk Mk 120s of 85 Combat Flying School; AFB Overberg is home to the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC); and AFB Waterkloof hosts 21, 28, 41, 44 and 60 squadrons.