Antonov and Tupolev coming to AAD


The main attractions – aircraft-wise – at this year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition are going to be Russian.

The exhibition organisers have confirmed a pair of Tu-160 Blackjacks and a Tu-22M bomber will be at AFB Waterkloof come September along with an An-124 cargo aircraft as part of Russia’s national participation via a pavilion and a static aircraft display.

The Tupolev Tu-160, NATO reporting name Blackjack, is a supersonic, variable sweep heavy strategic bomber which entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1987.

The Tupolev Tu-22M, NATO reporting name Backfire is a supersonic, variable sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber that entered service with the Soviet military in the 1970s. Both the Tu-160 and Tu-22M have been used by Russia to strike targets in Syria. The Tu-160 has been deployed overseas, and in 2008 flew to Venezuela.

The other major attraction for military aviation enthusiasts will be the An-124, according to AAD organisers. It is a large strategic airlifter designed by the Antonov Design bureau in what was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic with the NATO reporting name Condor. For 30 years, until the launch of the Boeing 747-8F, it was considered the world’s highest gross weight production cargo aircraft and the second heaviest operating aircraft after the Antonov An-225.

The US Air Force, in the form of the New York Air National Guard, will have a KC-135 Stratotanker, a C-17 Globemaster III, a pair a C-130J Hercules and the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

AAD 2016 runs from September 14 to 18 at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion with the first three days exclusively for trade visitors and the weekend open to the public with an airshow scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday.

Airbus Space and Defence will have its flagship A400M airlifter at AAD along with a Portuguese Air Force C-295 and four rotary-winged aircraft, according to AAD organisers.

Other confirmed aircraft are a pair of L-15s from Zambia, a C-212 from Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates aerobatic team in their MB339s.

SA Air Force participation will see Gripens, Hawks and Rooivalks showing the sharp end of the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with air support coming from Oryx and BK-117 helicopters, the venerable C-47s and C-130BZs as well as C-212 and C-208 light transport aircraft.

The SAAF Silver Falcons will show their skills in their PC-7 Mk II aircraft and SAAF Museum aircraft including the Vampire, Kudu and Alouette II and III will also take part in the airshow.

AAD organisers have indicated that aircraft from Curtiss-Wright, Dassault Aviation, JSC of Russia, CSI Aviation and Gulfstream will also be at AFB Waterkloof from September 14.

The Paramount Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned defence industry company, will exhibit the home-grown, high performance, reconnaissance light aircraft (Ahrlac/Mwari) and the French Gazelle helicopter.