More SAMIL combat driving simulators – with Cuban input – in SANDF service

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The Cuban connection in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) continues to make its presence felt, with more driving simulators handed over to the SANDF thanks to Cuban assistance.

In a report to Parliament in May 2021 giving an update on Project Thusano, Department of Defence Chief of Logistics Lieutenant General Morris Moadira said development of a SAMIL 20 PC combat driving simulator was completed and it was in production with seven finished and 17 being assembled.

Initial deployment was two at the SA Army Infantry School, one at the SA Army Engineering School and one at the SA Army Technical Training Centre, with associated skills transferred to 28 South African specialists.

SA Army Project Thusano Simulators project officer Lieutenant JS Maseko reported this week 17 simulators are in service across the SANDF. Those who now boast the combat driving simulators in their training aids inventory are the School of Armour (four); the SA Army Technical Training Centre (three); Infantry School, Air Defence Artillery School and 3 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion (two each), with 6 SAI Battalion, the School of Artillery, School of Engineers and School of Intelligence each receiving one.

The SA Air Force (SAAF) was allocated two and the SA Navy (SAN) will in due course receive two. They will, Maseko reports, go to the Bluff unit in Durban after it passes a facility inspection.

“The focal point of this project includes transferring skills from Cuban delegates to SANDF personnel and this paid off handsomely,” Maseko reported. Thusano director, Brigadier General Benny Mtsweni, visited the SA Army School of Armour in June to open a trainer of trainers (TOT) Course for instructors and operators [seemingly from the Signals Corps from different schools of excellence in SANDF services.

“It is of utmost importance for the TOTs to provide intensive input that will contribute tremendously to a decrease in the use of fuel, decrease in accidents let alone using less vehicle spares while training in an effective and efficient way,” he said.

The course wrapped up with a closing ceremony on 23 June. The course earned certificates of competence for 11 instructors and nine operators who will take their newly acquired skills back to own units.

The Cuban presence at any number of SANDF bases and units is facilitated by Project Thusano, a co-operation agreement between South Africa and the Caribbean Island state. It is due to expire in three years with Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise saying some elements [of the agreement] will be reviewed and renewed. She was replying to a Parliamentary question asked by Inkatha Freedom Party public representative Russel Cebekhulu in April.