When SAS Spioenkop (F147) steams out of Simon’s Town later this month en route to India she will have a Super Lynx maritime helicopter along with the necessary flight and support crew aboard.
The pilot is a SA Air Force (SAAF) Reserve Force member who was a member of 22 Squadron but transferred to AFB Langebaanweg and subsequently resigned from the air force because, a reliable source said, he wasn’t flying enough.
He will be supported in the cockpit of the specialist maritime helicopter, one of four operated by the SAAF out of AFB Ysterplaat’s 22 Squadron, by a tactical co-ordinator believed to be a full-time SAAF member. Also aboard for the voyage to India and subsequent Exercise Ibsamar will be three helicopter fitters, three avionics specialists and a mission support controller to ensure the South African presence at the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam, presented by the Indian Navy, goes off without any hitches.
Spioenkop is expected to depart Naval Base Simon’s Town around the middle of this month for the 4 900 nautical mile voyage to the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh via the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
A Super Lynx helicopter has previously been embarked on a SA Navy Valour Class frigate during an extended voyage to several South American countries and the rotary-winged aircraft have also been deployed, from time to time, on naval platforms in the Mozambique Channel as part of the Operation Copper SADC counter-piracy tasking.
Following the International Fleet Review, which the Indian Navy has said will expect more than 100 warships and 60 submarines to attend, Spioenkop will be the sole South African participant in the Ibsamar naval exercise, a biennial event in which the Brazilian, Indian and South African navies participate.
South Africa’s maritime partnership with India also includes the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).