An Israeli defence company executive says his company has been turned away as an exhibitor at this year’s upcoming African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show for what seem to be political reasons.
AAD 2016, the continent’s largest defence show, is to be held at Waterkloof Air Force Base outside of Pretoria from September 14 to 18.
The Israeli executive, who asked not the named, said his company approached the AAD organizers to exhibit in good time and were told to await a reply. A few months ago, when no reply had been received, they contacted the organizers, who again told them again to await a reply. No reply has been received to date.
South Africa maintains diplomatic relations with Israel, but the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been reluctant to reach out to the country. There is strong support in the ANC for the Palestinian cause.
The executive said his company remains “very keen” to exhibit at AAD to help market solutions to African countries. On his four country Africa tour earlier last month to Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, the country’s prime minister was accompanies by a large business delegation, that included representatives of Israeli defence companies.
When contacted for comment, AAD referred the matter to the Directorate Conventional Arms Control at the Department of Defence but no response had been received at the time of publication.
With just five weeks left before AAD 2016 opens its doors for business, international participation has been confirmed from 13 countries. These include India, Pakistan Russia, Turkey, Belgium, China, Italy, Germany and the United States, with that country’s air force represented by the New York Air National Guard (ANG), which is scheduled to be bringing several aircraft for display, including a C-17 Globemaster III, HC-130N Hercules and MQ-9 Reaper. The US Air Force Reserve will bring a KC-135R and C-130J-30.
Turkey currently heads the list in terms of exhibitors with no less than 15 companies said by AAD organisers to have reserved space on its national pavilion. China has, according to the exhibition organisers, 11 companies showing defence sector goods and services with the United States and Russia each having 10 defence sector companies on their respective national pavilions. Six Indian companies will be at AAD with Belgium, Italy and Pakistan each having four.
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.
AAD is the single largest aerospace, defence and allied equipment exhibition in Africa and takes place every second year with the official opening usually the prerogative of the South African Minister of Defence (currently Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula).
The exhibition has three dedicated trade days on September 14, 15 and 16 with the weekend open to the public and including an airshow, no details of which were available at the time of publication.