Symbolic milestone for AFB Langebaanweg


Air Force Base (AFB) Langebaanweg, a crucial outpost of the South African Air Force (SAAF) on the Cape West Coast, celebrated a momentous occasion on Thursday 7 December with the unveiling of its military Colour.

The event, presided over by Major General Mayenzeke Matanda, Deputy Chief of the SAAF, marked the official recognition of a military identity that has long been absent but is deeply rooted in the rich history of the unit.

Military colours, once essential for rallying troops and identifying commanders in the chaos of battle, have evolved into symbols of tradition and formality in modern military events. Colours, also known as Standards, are now carried by a dedicated guard detachment and lead parade formations, representing the unit’s identity and heritage. AFB Langebaanweg’s newly unveiled Colour, a field of sky blue adorned with the unit’s logo, stands as a testament to the dedication and pride of its members.

The absence of colours had been a void in the identity of AFB Langebaanweg, despite the base meeting all criteria for such an honour, including involvement in operational missions abroad. In his address on Thursday, Matanda highlighted the significance of this moment for AFB Langebaanweg and the broader military culture.

“It is the greatest possible privilege to be able to present (the) military Colours of Air Force Base Langebaanweg. This signifies retention of a military culture which boasts itself with rich history,” expressed the Deputy Chief of the Air Force.

Matanda emphasized the importance of military heritage, citing former members who served with pride and were ambassadors of the nation. “That pride and loyalty is something we have to abide with throughout,” he remarked.

The unveiled Colour, with its emblem and historical references, serves as a source of inspiration and motivation for the unit. Matanda urged the personnel to discharge their duties with excellence and professionalism to bolster operational requirements in a rapidly changing global landscape.

The Deputy Chief of the SAAF emphasized the evolving nature of military operations, noting the shift from terrain-based to time-based strategies. Matanda emphasised the importance of adaptability.

“Our air force must be able to intercede responsibly wherever they are needed,” he declared.

Matanda’s speech also addressed the challenges faced by the South African National Defence Force, operating on a tight budget. Despite financial constraints, the air force is expected to play a vital role in the upcoming national elections in 2024 by assisting the Independent Electoral Commission with the transportation of ballot boxes to remote areas.

He urged the audience to be cognisant of the ever-changing global landscape, drawing parallels with the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel, emphasizing the volatile and unpredictable nature of the world.

Matanda highlighted the need for sound resourcing, emphasising that resourcing military forces is an investment in the nation’s power.

“This then suggest that there is no country that is immune to such situation,” Matanda continued. “If we can agree on that, we as the State should be able to quantify what it should take to see the positive SAAF contribution on delivering its constitutional mandate.”

“Clearly, I mean it is an extreme challenge to deliver to expectations if sound resourcing (is) not provided,” he concluded.

He called for encouragement and support, recognizing the commitment, dedication and hard work of soldiers who undergo rigorous training to fulfil their operational demands.

Acknowledging operational challenges, with some of the fleet not being fully operational, Matanda says that the SAAF “will heed a clarion call.”

The Air Force Day Parade (Prestige Day) is held on the first Friday closest to 1 February whereby all the SAAF’s Units and Bases will display their Colours. Next year’s Parade will feature AFB Langebaanweg displaying their Colour for the first time.

Situated on the Cape West Coast north of Cape Town, AFB Langebaanweg is home to the SAAF’s Central Flying School as well as playing host to visiting squadrons on air/air and air/ground exercises. With a detachments of Hawk advanced training jets fortuitously undergoing an Air-Air and Mission Controller training camp at the Base, the opportunity was taken for a joint Hawk/PC-7 Mk II formation flypast.

Planning for the construction of what is now known as AFB Langebaanweg commenced, with the assistance of the USA, in 1942. The first aircraft, an Anson, arrived in February 1946. Playing host to a number of air and navigation schools over the years, the Central Flying School (CFS) moved to the Base from Dunnottar in December 1992. The Base was renamed from CFS Langebaanweg to AFB Langebaanweg in 2001.