While not cast in stone, it appears the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has its eyes on two possible types to replace its ageing C-130BZ fleet.
In the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) for the 2015/16 financial year National Treasury indicates “the department (of defence) will be acquiring equipment and developing systems to maintain a modern, balanced and technologically advanced force. It has budgeted for medium and light transport aircraft, a new generation mobile communication capability and precision guided air force ammunition for air defence. These acquisitions are reflected in spending in the Air Defence programme in 2016/17 and 2017/18”.
Requests for further information from the SA Air Force (SAAF) remain unanswered and defenceWeb had to turn to defence analyst Helmoed Heitman for assistance.
On the issue of “budgeted” in SANDF terms he maintains it could have one of two meanings.
“Firstly, they (the SAAF) have decided what they want, received and accepted the offer and have put money to one side for it. The other option is they know roughly what they want, have approval to proceed with the acquisition project, know roughly what it will cost and have found the money in a particular time slot within the overall capital budget. It has been earmarked for specifically this purpose, pending an RfO process and a tender.
“In the case of the ENEs I am pretty sure the latter is meant,” he said.
As to aircraft types being considered he points out in current SAAF terminology “medium airlift” means something like the C-130 or the Brazilian KC-390.
“Personally, I see the medium type of airlifter as important but a bit of a luxury for the SAAF now. If South Africa is going to play a regional role, the air force needs the A400M or, if it ever really goes into production, the An-70. The medium types lack the payload and payload/range combination to be useful. If the defence force is going to remain within South Africa’s borders or in their immediate vicinity there is no need for medium airlift, light transport would suffice.
“Light transport to me includes the C-27J or C-295 to replace the C-47TP and probably also the C-212. I would like to see some new C-212s as utility transports and for training transport crews and paratrooping.
“The C-27J is useful as a tactical aircraft and can handle difficult Special Forces operations as well as fly in light armoured vehicles. The C-295 is more a general purpose transport, limited by the size of its hold and arguably not as agile as the C-27J,” he said.
Another specific item mentioned in the Defence ENE is torpedoes which Heitman said will be “heavyweight” ones for the Heroine Class submarines and not a light torpedo for the Valour Class frigates or the Super Lynx maritime helicopters.