“Blue Cluster” underway

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Southern African Development Community air forces have assembled at South African Air Force Bases Hoedspruit and Makhado in Limpopo for a joint and multinational simulated humanitarian relief exercise, codenamed Blue Cluster.

The exercise that started Saturday ends this Sunday. “This exercise emanates from a SADC Standing Aviation Committee meeting which was held in Maputo, Mozambique where it was decided to hold a bi-annual exercise with the primary objective of developing and improving regional co-operation in the field of Humanitarian Support Operations amongst all SADC Air Forces and Air Wings, the South African Department of Defence said in a statement.
“Air assets from participating nations will jointly execute a simulated humanitarian relief exercise on the borders of South Africa with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.”

The DoD noted that by the weekend aircraft from three SADC countries – Angola, Botswana and Zimbabwe – had arrived. Zambia and Mozambique only pledged human resources to the exercise. The SAAF contingent includes:
– 2 x Saab Gripen fighters
– 2 x BAE Systems Mk120 Hawk fighters
– 1 x Lockheed Martin C130BZ Hercules medium transports
– 2 x Airbus Military C212 light transports
– 1 x Douglas C47T electronic warfare aircraft
– 3 x Cessna C208 Caravan light utility transports
– 4 x Denel Oryx helicopters medium utility helicopters
– 1 x Sector Control Centre
– 5 x Static Radars
(Notably absent is the AgustaWestland A109 light utility helicopter [LUH])

Angolan Air Force:
– 1 x Ilyushin IL76 “Candid” multi-purpose four-engined heavy/strategic airlifter

Botswana Defence Force:
– 2 x Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel LUH
– 1 x Bell B412 LUH
– 1 x Airbus Military C212 light transport
– 2 x Britten-Norman BN2B Islander light utility transport

Zimbabwe Air Force
– 1 x AB412 LUH
– 2 x Hongdu K-8 Karakorum light fighters
– 1 x Airbus Military C212 light transport

The DoD adds Brigadier General Anton Kriegler is the exercise director and Colonel Mac Mathanda is the exercise air component commander.



Pic: A SAAF C212 dropping suppliesat a capability demonstration in 2007.