South African Air Force, Lesotho Defence Force strengthen ties

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Members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) are in South Africa under a cooperation agreement aimed at furthering air arm training.

Ad Astra intern Nondumiso Ndhlela reported that the LDF delegation arrived at South African Air Force Headquarters on 28 August, and will be in South Africa until 1 September.

“The purpose of the visit from the Lesotho Defence Force was to follow up on a cooperation agreement which was signed by the SA National Defence Force, authorising the Kingdom of Lesotho Defence Force Air Wing to take part in the military training programmes,” Ndhlela explained.

SAAF and LDF officials were scheduled to discuss the hosting of LDF Air Wing members in South Africa for courses, and the introduction of joint exercises between the two organisations.

Some members of the Lesotho delegation previously underwent an Officer Forming Course in South Africa and said they were proud products of the SA Air Force.

LDF Colonel Tsukudu said, “we are gladly looking forward to exchanging knowledge on how we are going to maintain and improve our cooperation as well as solutions on development of aviation. It has been a while since we had our intakes with the SA Air Force, which was in 2009. We are delighted to be here to kickstart our cooperation.”

The LDF Air Wing relies on outside sources for pilot training as it has no capacity of its own. The SAAF has trained numerous pilots from its landlocked neighbour, while others have received training at commercial flying schools.

The LDF has a small Air Wing, whose most modern aircraft are three Airbus Helicopters H125s. Several C212s and a single GA-8 Airvan fixed wing aircraft are also believed to be in service, along with several Bell 412s, and a couple of BO 105s.

The LDF is mainly tasked with border control and managing internal security issues, such as cattle rustling, as well as search and rescue. It is contributing a company-sized infantry force to the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), with the Air Wing providing a C212 for light transport duties.