Trade visitors to last month’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof numbered just short of 34 000 over the trade days with another 57 000 attending the two day air show.
The 2016 edition of AAD was led and managed by Armscor, one of four partners in the exhibition that takes place every two years as the showcase for African defence and allied industries. The other partners are the South African Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV), AMD (the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association) and the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA). AAD 2018 will be led and managed by CAASA and Armscor will officially hand over management of AAD at the November AAD policy meeting.
The exhibition was officially opened by Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on 14 September, the first trade day. Sadly it was marked for many visitors by access problems with traffic back-ups extending for kilometres. The presence of a large number of MPs and Tshwane metro traffic officers on the remaining trade days saw to it there was no repeat performance of this.
AAD has long been regarded as the continent’s premier aerospace and defence exhibition and this year added lustre was provided in the form of an African Unity pavilion. Defence industry companies from Nigeria, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Sudan showcased their products and services for the first time.
AAD numbers, released this week by the organising committee, show 33 862 visitors over the three trade days who had the opportunity to call on 532 exhibitors from 105 countries including 13 national pavilions. All told fifty four thousand square metres of exhibition space, both in- and outdoor, were used to display products as big as United States Air Force C-17 heavy lift cargo aircraft down to handguns.
Armscor chief executive Kevin Wakeford said AAD 2016 had “exceeded all expectations with more exhibitors, more trade visitors, more companies and more official delegations than ever before”.
Official delegations at ministerial or senior defence force level came from Egypt, Iran, Sweden, Vietnam, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, the United States, Brazil, India and Turkey.
Amongst many events, the Paramount Group used AAD as the launch platform for its Mbombe 6 infantry fighting vehicle and Denel unveiled a demonstrator model of its new Africa Truck designed to provide logistic support to peacekeeping operations.
Feedback provided to defenceWeb was, in the main, positive with some visitors saying stands appeared to be fewer in number than in 2014 and others pointing to a lesser number of visitors on particularly the trade days. This was reinforced by other people who said the exhibition” appeared less busy than in the past with some hangars busy but others clearly not”.
An exhibitor said “good meetings took place, but these were planned in advance”.
The various SA National Defence Force (SANDF) exhibits covering the arms of service as well as individual formations were singled out for praise.
“People manning the various SANDF exhibits were competent and spoke well to visitors. I was particularly impressed with a non-commissioned officer who gave an excellent insight into the defence force as a whole to a group of school children,” a man who wore the dual hat of exhibitor and media representative said.