South Africa’s security forces will this week test their preparations for securing the FIFA soccer World Cup one last time.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) assisted by the police the SA Civil Aviation Authority, the Intelligence Coordinating Committee (made up of representatives of the various SA intelligence agencies), the Air Traffic Navigation Service and disaster management authorities, will conduct a national air space protection exercise, code-named Shield VI (6) between April 23 and 26.
The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) says Shield VI is intended to test and verify the air space security plan to be implemented during the tournament as government has given certain security-related guarantees to FIFA for the duration of the World Cup, now just 50 days away.
“This exercise will run concurrently with Operation Prosper, a sea borderline patrol undertaken by the South African Navy and other role players to secure the maritime environment and verify South Africa’s maritime security plan in the run-up to the World Cup,” NATJOINTS spokesman Brigadier Sally de Beer said. “Both Prosper and Shield VI are being run under the umbrella of the NATJOINTS of which the South African Police Service is the lead department.
The objectives of Exercise Shield VI are fourfold:
To test the air space security plan, which has been developed specifically for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, on a national basis;
To test the ability of the various departments involved in air space security to work in an integrated manner throughout the country as well as the integration of systems across departments;
To “load test”the systems, that is to ensure that equipment and personnel are capable of dealing with high volumes when managing the air space; and
To ensure that operating procedures already developed are adequate.
“In order to adequately safeguard any major event, the security forces have to ensure that comprehensive law enforcement plans are in place to cover any eventuality on land, at sea, in the rail environment and in the air,” De Beer said. To this end it is necessary during certain periods to temporarily restrict air space. In the case of the World Cup, this would include the air space over the match venues – the stadiums.
The Civil Aviation Authority has already issued an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) which restricts – but does not ban – flights within 50 nautical miles of certain areas as stipulated in the AIP including over World Cup stadiums in all host cities. “With the exception of scheduled or state flights, all other aircraft wishing to enter into the stipulated airspace between April 23 and 26 must conform to the restrictions. This entails applying for permission at least 24 hours in advance, submitting a flight plan and being subjected to a vetting process. Any aircraft observed entering the temporarily restricted airspace without the prescribed authority will be subjected to interception and interrogation, as well as possibly being forced to land at an identified air field.
“All pilots who are successfully vetted for this exercise will not have to be screened again prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” De Beer said. “It is intended to run this exercise in such a manner that, while it enforces optimum security in the skies, it does so with minimum impact on commercial aviation, the community in general and the environment.
“The South African Police Service will deploy Air Liaison Officers to earmarked airfields to ensure that all flights departing from those airfields have been pre-authorised, to provide an efficient link between the SAAF and the police as well as to provide the first line of defence should a suspected rogue aircraft be forced down at any of the airfields.”
The aircraft being deployed by the SAAF during Shield VI include AgustaWestland A109 light utility helicopters, Denel M1 Oryx medium utility helicopters, Pilatus PC7 Mk2 Astra trainers, BAE System Mk120 lead-in fighter trainers and Saab Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft. “The security forces are fully confident of our expert ability in securing major events and urge the people of South Africa to take pride in their country, their security forces and their national team, Bafana Bafana, De Beer said.
Pic: A Saab Gripen C and a Gripen D fighter intercepting a SAAF C130 Hercules on Monday.