SAAF wants radar road transporters and aircrew rescue vehicles

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The prime mission of the SA Air Force (SAAF) is to defend South Africa’s airspace which means ensuring aircraft as well as air and ground crews are fit for dispatch on missions, sorties and taskings. In support of this, different vehicles are integral.

Two areas where the SAAF decided it needs additional wheels on the ground are for radar equipment delivery and rescue, with firefighting support an extra. To meet these needs Armscor has been seeking information from prospective suppliers to allow acquisition decisions on mobile radar trucks and pilot rescue vehicles.

The State-owned defence and security materiel agency residing in the Department of Defence, headed by minister Thandi Modise, recently issued request for bids (RFBs) for the two categories of vehicles. In both cases the documentation runs to many – one in the hundreds – pages covering broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), intellectual property (IP) and a host of officially decreed needs and regulations to be complied with as well as actual vehicle specifications.

Twelve trucks, according to Armscor documentation, are intended to transport tactical mobile radars (TMRs) from bases, typically the Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing (AFMDW) on the western side of what was Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop, to specific deployment points and back to the Centurion facility. The 8X8 trucks, when acquired and in service, will be used to tow refurbished tactical mobile radar (TMR) units. The Armscor documentation has it the TMRs are refurbished and “require new transporters”. A TMR deployment requires, at minimum, three trucks. One carries the operations container and the others the radar antenna mast and transmitter. All must have a 12 ton payload capacity, range of 700 km and maximum speed of 100 km/h.

The SAAF, again as per Armscor documentation, needs pilot rescue and command vehicles (PRCVs). They will be utilised as dual purpose vehicles.

The dual purpose will see the 10 new vehicles used where “fighter aircraft crew may require rescue from the cockpit during an emergency” and to oversee firefighting for “enable effective rescue operations during an incident/accident”. The fleet of PRCVs, once acquired and in service, will be placed at “various SAAF local bases”.

Bids for the 8X8 TMR trucks closed on 7 March and bids for the pilot rescue and command vehicles closed on 14 March.

Also on vehicles, but not acquisition, Nomsa Marchesi, African National Congress (ANC) National Assembly member, was informed by Modise her Ministry acquired just one vehicle – A BMW X4 – since June 2019. The top-of-the-range German SUV was taken into service on 15 September 2021 and is allocated to Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, the response to a Parliamentary question reads.