SAAF thanked for Ex Ukuthula participation


The South African Air Force (SAAF) has been thanked for its role in the force preparation exercise Ukuthula, which was held at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Lohatla.

“The Component Commander for the Rapid Deployment Air Operations Team 43 SA Brigade, Colonel Sthembisile Sly Matshaka, thanked members of the SA Air Force that were deployed at the SA Army Combat Training Centre Lohatla for Exercise Ukuthula 2020, for their contribution in support of the SA Army,” the SANDF said.

The Headquarters 43 SA Brigade kicked off Amabutho, a brigade planning exercise, ahead of the field training component (Ukuthula) at Lohatla in late October. The overall force preparation and training elements of both exercises ended on 27 November.

The objective of the SA Air Force was to support the SA Army students who were undergoing the Junior Command and Staff Course at Lohatla. “The SA Air Force achieved this objective through providing air support utilising the Oryx helicopter for trooping and hot extraction training, Agusta A109 for visual reconnaissance training, Rooivalk helicopter for close air support and the Hawk Lead-in Fighter Trainer for air to ground missions (bombing missions).”

Matshaka said members of the SA Air Force contributed immensely to the success of the exercise by exhibiting a high standard of discipline, even though others were participating in the exercise for the first time.

“For the SA Air Force to test its doctrine and the standard operating procedures (SOPs), more members of the SA Air Force should be deployed to gain insight on joint operations with other Services of the SA National Defence Force,” said Matshaka. It will enable them to grasp knowledge and experience in exercises and other operations within the SA National Defence Force for future use. He recommended that thorough planning and coordination should be done in time through pledging maximum support with more resources for future SA Air Force exercises.

“I am happy and satisfied that no incidents occurred during the period and that all resources provided by the SA Air Force were counted for and utilised optimally,” concluded Matshaka.

Ukuthula and Amabutho were aimed at validating the combat readiness of South African forces pledged to the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) initiative.

The SAAF contribution saw 70 personnel from air and ground crews as well as support personnel based at the Lohathla training area.

Others that took part in Ukuthula at Lohathla were 10 Air Defence Artillery Regiment, 1 SA Infantry Battalion, 1 Special Service Battalion, 1 SA Tank Regiment, 1 Signal Regiment, 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment, 1010 Field Workshop, 16 Maintenance Unit, 8 Medical Unit and a rapid deployment operations team.

Also involved and providing support were the SA Police Service, their military counterparts, the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and other SA Army support elements.

Amabutho and Ukuthula are planned and executed in line with African Union (AU) scenarios 5 (peace support operations) and 6 (intervention operations). This sees participants exposed to and hands-on with the continental body’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), its doctrine and as well as inter-operability in joint operations.

Army junior officers on the Junior Command and Staff Course gain valuable experience from Ukuthula, the SANDF said.