SAAF Gripen fighters soar over Cape Town ahead of 2024 SONA

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With the impending 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA) slated for this Thursday in Cape Town, the South African Air Force (SAAF) is poised to once again captivate the skies over the Mother City in anticipation of this significant annual event.

Fresh from enthralling the Gauteng public during the preparations for and the SAAF Prestige Parade last week, which marked the commemoration of 104 years of the collective heritage and history of the SAAF, two Saab Gripen fighters arrived at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town on Saturday 3 February.

Operated by 2 Squadron, the premier fighter squadron of the SAAF based at Air Force Base Makhado in the Limpopo province, a single-seat C model and a dual-seat D model made the journey from their temporary base at OR Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg to the scenic Western Cape.

The SONA is scheduled to occur on Thursday 8 February at 7 pm at the Cape Town City Hall. As is tradition for the occasion, the SAAF conducts a flypast over the venue and this year is no exception. While the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainers from nearby AFB Langebaanweg have often been summoned for this role, this year the SAAF has decided to amplify the event with added flair.

The two Gripen aircraft are set to form up with a BAE Systems Hawk trainer from the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC) based at AFB Overberg in the Southern Cape, creating an impressive formation that will soar over the City Bowl at approximately 6:50 pm.

During their detachment to the Cape, the pilots from 2 Squadron are also anticipated to conduct additional training sorties across the Western and Southern Cape, allowing maximum value to be derived from their visit to Cape Town.