Defence minister declares AAD 2014 open to 50 000 trade visitors

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Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula officially opened the 2014 edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) at Air Force Base Waterkloof this morning, where 47 000 trade visitors are expected to congregate over the first three days of the show.

Mapisa-Nquakula said that over 95 000 people are expected to attend the show, with the majority arriving for the public and air show days over the weekend. She added that 413 exhibitors from 29 countries will descend on Waterkloof, together with 84 foreign delegations. There are a dozen military fixed and rotary wing aircraft on display and over 80 civilian aircraft on display.

AAD 2014 is expected to generate R684 million worth of economic output and create 2 055 temporary jobs.
“The Africa Aerospace and Defence show…is organised as a show of the continent, and hosted on our home soil, and it has been growing in strength and size since the inaugural edition. I want to commend the partners of the AAD for having grown the partnership and the show from strength to strength with every bi-annual edition,” she said during her opening address.
“As we gather here today, the world is faced with a myriad of socio-economic and security challenges that have created dangerous conditions of life for many around the world. The symptoms of this state of world affairs is evident in the continued displacement and suppression of the people of Palestine, the turmoil that engulfs Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the civil strife in the Ukraine. Here at home the continent is still seized with the ongoing interstate conflicts in Nigeria, the Great Lakes Region and the recent disturbing events in the Kingdom of Lesotho.
“Globally we are also faced with a growing threat emanating from cybercrime and cyber attacks. In the recent past we’ve all also had to pay more attention to the need to secure our natural resources and to tackle head-on the continued scourge of piracy in our waters, the criminal killing of the rhino, as well as having to contain national disasters and epidemics such as the rampant Ebola, all of which can contribute to the development of insecurity amongst nations of the world.”

The minister said that the defence organisations need to deal with insecurity and its root causes and the changing role of defence forces given various new challenges. “Working in partnership with the industry we are also called upon to enhance the contribution of the military to economic objectives, and encourage its growing participation in support of development as part of peacetime activities.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said the Defence Review 2014 will influence the nature and role of the defence industry in supporting its mandate. “In this regard, this exhibition and the various industry players involved here should be the platform to avail some of the requisite technologies, equipment and solutions to these challenges faced by defence organisations all over the world.
“In the case of South Africa, we see this exhibition as a platform that encourages mutually beneficial partnerships between our local industry and international original equipment manufacturers in a manner that will ensure that our industry remains capable and capacitated through technology transfer, collaborative developments, indigenisation and market access.
“Beyond our own capital acquisition requirements, we remain committed to our various partnerships in the region, the subcontinent and globally…we remain grateful for the relationship with Brazil at a defence industrial level and look forward to deepening this relationship into other areas of cooperation and collaboration.”

The minister said AAD is one of the key milestones in the country as it relates to the Defence Review and the capabilities that the defence force needs to acquire.

Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted a piece of locally developed technology, the Rooivalk, as something that she is very proud of. She pointed out that the Rooivalk essentially finished the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Rooivalks serving with the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade played a pivotal part in neutralising M23 rebel forces. In addition, other rebel forces, including elements of the FDLR, came forward asking to be reintegrated following the Rooivalk’s combat sorties. “We see other negative forces coming forward and wanting to cooperate,” she said.

As a supporter of the Rooivalk, the minister said wherever she goes she talks about the aircraft and its mission and how well it performed in the difficult terrain of the DRC. “The fact that we were able to win that war points to the capabilities of the Rooivalk.”

The Rooivalk is on static display at AFB Waterkloof but will also be flying during Saturday and Sunday’s air show days. Other aircraft on the provisional lineup include Air Force Museum helicopters, the Vampire, P-51 Mustang (Mustang Sally), T-28 Trojan, autogyro, Eclipse jet, PAC 750XL, Tiger Moth, C-130, Hawk, Gripen, Mango Boeing 737 and ‘several surprises’. Other attractions include the Golden Eagles parachute team, the US Army Golden Knights parachute team, a Save the Rhino demonstration and a mini-war.