AAD exhibition space already half taken

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With just over six months before the AAD (Africa Aerospace and Defence) 2024 exhibition opens its doors for business at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof, organisers report that half the available display space is booked.

This augurs well for AAD 2024 to overtake 2022’s 203 exhibitors and echoes what Solomzi Mbada, Armscor Chief Executive, hopes to see as an exhibition that will contribute positively to the wider South African defence industry (SADI), exhibitors and all participants.

Armscor is the AAD 2024 host, taking over from the SA Aerospace Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD), which hosted AAD 2022.

Centurion-headquartered Milkor has renewed its diamond sponsorship for AAD 2024 and will again use the air force base to showcase its air, land and sea defence products.

Among exhibitors confirmed to date by recently appointed exhibition director Nakedi Phasha are Denel, with a new chief executive in the form of Tsepo Monaheng, as well as Brazilian aerospace giant, Embraer, whose C-390 Millenium transport was demonstrated at Waterkloof in November.

Other confirmed exhibitors are Sweden’s Saab, whose products include the Gripen JAS39 in service with the SA Air Force; European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, whose A400M acquisition by the SAAF was canned during Lindiwe Sisulu’s time as defence and military veterans minister; Turkish Aerospace Industries and United States (US) defence contractor, technology and information technology supplier, L3Harris.

“We are positioning SADI to use AAD2024 as a platform for both buyers and sellers to come together and conclude those crucial and mutually beneficial deals,” Mbada said in an exclusive early exhibition preview for defenceWeb.

“Our South African defence budget might be dwindling but the global market presents an opportunity for local industries to take advantage of,” his preview reads in part, adding the exhibition “provides local industries with an international platform to showcase and market their value to a carefully curated and accredited global player network”.

Armscor is working with key partners to put together a “memorable” AAD beneficial to all invited guests and delegations as well as aiming at “producing the required return on investment (ROI) envisaged by all participants”.

The Pretoria East headquartered defence and security acquisition agency has it “the AAD trade expo and air show provides a conducive environment for business-to-business linkages, as well as an ideal platform for engaging on international defence, aerospace and other related best practices”.

Geopolitical conflicts currently underway “galvanised” countries to relook and strengthen defence capabilities it notes.

AAD this year runs from 18 to 22 September with the weekend set aside, as has become standard operating practice (SOP), for an air show at the base the SAAF once tagged as its “centre of transport excellence”.