SA Air Force and Navy support COVID-19 lockdown efforts

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The South African Air Force (SAAF) and the SA Navy (SAN) are playing a vital role in assisting the efforts to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus during the national lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa formally deployed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to all nine provinces to assist the South African Police Service to maintain law and order, support the state departments and to control the borders to combat the spread of COVID-19 during the national lockdown.

Under Operation Notlela, the SANDF mission in support of the Government’s lockdown initiatives, the SAAF has positioned aircraft for use by various Joint Tactical Headquarters in different provinces, under the operational command and control of the Joint Operations Division.

Specifically, the SAAF elements available for the operation include:

Air Force Base Waterkloof

  • 1 x C-130BZ Hercules medium transport aircraft
  • 2 x C212 Aviocar light transport aircraft
  • 1 x C208 Caravan light transport aircraft

Air Force Base Swartkop

  • 2 x Oryx medium helicopters
  • 2 x A109 light utility helicopters

Air Force Base Ysterplaat

  • 1 x C208 Caravan light transport aircraft
  • 2 x Oryx medium helicopters
  • 2 x Super Lynx maritime helicopters

Captain (SA Navy) Jaco Theunissen, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Division, told defenceWeb that the aircraft are available to deploy to areas of concern, carry out logistics flights and transport medical supplies, carry out surveillance of border areas as well as flights for leadership in order to reach deployment areas.

To date, the SAAF has flown approximately “120 hours combined” in support of Operation Notlela.

Gripen fighters have also been spotted over Gauteng and the Lowveld, on training flights.

Whilst somewhat out of the public eye, the SA Navy is also supporting Operation NOTLELA efforts.

In the Western Cape, one platoon of the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is detached to Joint Tactical Headquarters (J TAC HQ) Western Cape, with another MRS platoon detached to J TAC HQ KwaZulu-Natal.

The platoons are deployed in conjunction with and in support of the South African Police Service (SAPS).