Ex Good Hope postponed

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The eighth joint German/South African joint military exercise, scheduled to start at month-end, is on hold for the foreseeable future due to high levels of coronavirus infection in the European country.

Exercise Good Hope, albeit in a severely curtailed form from previous ones which saw blue water serials involving helicopters and one occasion jet fighters, was set to start on 31 January and end on 13 February with all activity centred on the Cape west coast port Saldanha.

defenceWeb is reliably informed the German contingent will not be making the trip to South Africa because of the current COVID-19 situation. Added to this is the German Health Ministry rating South Africa a “high crisis region” for the pandemic which, while allowing travel, means up to 14 days quarantine on returning home.

Two alternative dates – one end-August and the second in November – are proposed according to the German defence attaché in South Africa, Captain (DM) Volker Gelhausen.

There was, at the time of publishing, no response from SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC), on the exercise. defenceWeb asked if Good Hope was officially off or would it go ahead as a purely South African military exercise.

Planning was for Good Hope this year to be a maritime tactical exercise in the form of a field training exercise in and around Saldanha Bay. In the scenario a combined force consisting of SA Navy (SAN) Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) specialist and Deutsche Marine marines will establish a forward operating base from which assets conduct maritime interdiction operations as part of a constabulary force to prevent insurgency into territorial waters. This would be accomplished by conducting close shore patrols and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations on vessels of interest in the area of operation (AOO) utilising boats, helicopters and marines.

South African Navy (SAN) resources earmarked for Good Hope were the MRS, a diving team and operational boat elements utilising harbour patrol boats (HPB) and landing craft. SA Air Force (SAAF) helicopters, in all probability from 22 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat were to be part of the exercise. SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) personnel would be used for real time and exercise medical support.