Hawk two-ship flypast to grace SONA

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The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will, as at previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONA), be part of Thursday’s Presidential address at the Cape Town City Hall.

In keeping with the need to not spend unnecessarily or lavishly from a continually shrinking defence budget the contribution of the SA Air Force (SAAF) shows commitment to this.

The air force, according to the Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC), will put a pair of Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter trainers into Cape Town’s central airspace for a flypast over the replacement venue for SONA 2022. The jets are based at Air Force Base (AFB) Makhado and are used by 85 Combat Flying School for fighter pilot training.

If problems are experienced with the single-engined BAE Systems jets, a pair of Swiss-built PC-7 Mk II trainers from Central Flying School at AFB Langebaanweg will be on standby.

The centrepiece of the SANDF presence will, as always, be the National Ceremonial Guard (NCG) with its precision drill in picture perfect uniforms and highly polished rifles. An NCG company will provide a Guard of Honour for the event accompanied by the Guard’s own band and three other SANDF bands. They are the Army Support Base (ASB) bands from KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo with the third referred to only as the “Western Cape military band”.

Other SANDF elements taking part are from the Infantry Formation (three sub-units tasked with “street lining”, outer perimeter security and one said to be from local Reserve Force components with no specific tasking assigned, according to DCC; 18 “flagmen” from the Signal Formation and Artillery Formation gun crews to man artillery guns for the 21 gun salute.

Motorcycle mounted military police were seen rehearsing for SONA yesterday (Monday) but are not named in the DCC statement which has it all four SANDF services will be taking part. It does not specify SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and SA Navy (SAN) taskings for the event.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) has put in place measures to ensure a safe and secure delivery of the State of the Nation Address, which will for the first time not take place in Parliament after it was gutted by a fire in January.

NATJOINTS in a statement on Tuesday said security forces had been deployed and were on high alert to ensure that the SONA takes place in a secure environment, with no incidents of crime before, during and post the important address.

Colonel Athlenda Mathe said in relation to aviation security, a Notice to all Airmen (NOTAM) had been issued by the Civil Aviation Authority which restricts the airspace within 1.5 nautical miles from the Cape Town City Hall on the day between 1pm and midnight.

“Only the South African Air Force (SAAF) will have flexible use of airspace during this period. Please note that this is strictly a no fly zone for drones.”