The South African Air Force held its first Air Capability Demonstration (ACD) of the year at the Roodewal weapons range outside Polokwane in Limpopo this week, and put on an impressive show that included Rooivalk attack helicopters and seven Gripen fighters.
The demonstration on Wednesday began with Pathfinders from 44 Parachute Brigade parachuting to the ground and taking positions in the veld. Two Gripens performed an air combat patrol overhead before two Oryx helicopters arrived to demonstrate the use of Bambi buckets to put out a fire.
Next a C-130 Hercules dropped cargo, which parachuted to the ground. Two Gripens and a Hawk then conducted a simulated air to air engagement before Oryx helicopters, including one painted in United Nations white, dropped troops, mortars and Gecko vehicles to the battleground. Two Rooivalks, including one in white, provided fire support, firing 20 mm cannons, while an A109 Light Utility Helicopter provided eyes on the battlefield. No rockets were fired as these were sent to support the aircraft with the UN Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The troops who were dropped on the ground then fired their assault rifles, machineguns and mortars at a simulated enemy, with Rooivalk support.
One of the Rooivalks was ‘shot down’ and the pilot rescued by a BK 117 helicopter. Oryx helicopters picked up the troops on the ground before two Hawks and two Gripens dropped 120 and 250 kg bombs on targets on the range. The combat aircraft dropped four bombs each.
Finally, all the aircraft that took part in the display flew past assembled guests and an Oryx and a C-130 released flares.