The South African Air Force’s Silver Falcons display team will be wowing the crowd at the opening ceremony of the FIFA 2010 soccer World Cup this afternoon – weather permitting – alongside 2 Squadron flying the country’s premier fighter, the Saab Gripen.
“The SAAF will be taking part at the opening ceremony … and the world at large will witness a combined display from Silver Falcons and the newly acquired high-tech fighter jets – the Gripens,” the military says in a statement. “The SAAF is proud to be part of this event as it will contribute to a safe and secure event.”
The Silver Falcons operate the Pilatus PC7 MkII Astra.
The SAAF is playing a major role in safeguarding the month-long event and has deployed mobile radar as well as the Gripen, the BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120 light fighter, Astra and Agusta A109 light utility helicopter to enforce no fly zones around participating sports stadiums. Denel Oryx helicopters as well as Casa and Lockheed Martin C130 Hercules transports are on standby to provide airlift to police and special forces safeguarding the soccer spectacular.
“During the preparation leading to the kick-off of the tournament over a two-year period, the SAAF has prepared itself well through various exercises including [six editions of] Exercise Shield to ensure a safe World Cup Tournament through safeguarding the airspace of the Republic of South Africa,” the statement adds.
“Since then, the SAAF has deployed nationwide and has verified operational doctrine and processes. The SAAF is positive that all resources that are in place to support 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament will ensure that this will be a safe event.”