The unavailability of South African Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang means Air Force Day will not be marked on the first Friday of February this year.
The Air Force Day parade marks the founding of the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force and the Chief’s address is seen as a tone setter for the year ahead.
While it was not confirmed at the time of publication by SANDF Corporate Communications, Msimang is said to be overseas on unspecified Air Force business. According to reliable sources he is on course in Cuba.
The SAAF is widely accepted as being the second oldest independent air force in the world and this year marks its 93rd anniversary.
In his parade address last year now retired SAAF Chief Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano said the force was “officially entering a period of austerity”. This because an insufficient budget was putting excessive strain on operations. The austerity factor was emphasised by a flypast of just four helicopters.
In previous years the parade was a showcase of SAAF equipment from Gripen third generation fighters and Hawk MK 120 lead-in fighters, finishing off a mass flypast also featuring Cessna 208 Caravans, KingAirs and Pilatus PC-12s, the venerable C47TPs and C-130BZ maritime and transport aircraft as well as Agusta A109, Oryx and Rooivalk helicopters. The Silver Falcons aerobatic display team also contributed to an impressive display of air power during past Air Force Day parades.