More than 40 000 trade visitors from 28 countries attended the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2012 exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof last week, while 95 000 members of the public attended the air show days on the weekend, wrapping up the largest exhibition of air, sea and land capabilities on the African continent.
The exhibition was officially opened on September 19 by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who addressed military veterans and 350 exhibitors.
“AAD presents an opportunity for the world’s military and defence professionals to gather together to build and nurture the relationships that the minister highlighted in her welcoming speech,” said Leon Dillman, AAD show director.
Several high profile product launches took place during the three trade days, notably of armoured vehicles and international cooperation agreements, while the 120 visiting delegations, including 61 foreign delegations, from the defence and aviation industry gained insights into new technologies, viewing the products and services of 350 exhibitors. Of those, 40% were foreign exhibitors from 28 countries (Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jordan, Namibia, Netherlands, China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, Finland and the USA).
The exhibition filled seven hangars at the AFB Waterkloof, in addition to more than 90 aircraft parked on the base’s aprons, in static displays. “There were many terrestrial vehicles on display too, in addition to exhibitions of related disciplines like the medical and veterinary units that play a very important role in the military,” Dillman added. “Our Youth Development Programme was very successful, as 3 000 students from previously disadvantaged areas engaged with members of the military to identify future career opportunities.” The Youth Development Programme recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.
On September 22 and 23, the air show days, the public were treated to a mass parachute drop, a mini war re-enactment, 35 aircraft participating in aerobatic displays and the very popular truck and armoured vehicle displays at the mobility demonstration track. Proceedings got off to a subdued start with rain for much of the early morning, but cleared up in the afternoon, allowing for some excellent flying weather.
“While the weather on the Saturday caused some logistical problems, the local favourites like the Gripen, Hawk and Silver Falcons excited the crowds, making it a thrilling day, regardless of the weather conditions,” said Dillman.
The next edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence will be held at AFB Waterkloof between 17 and 21 September 2014.