Exercise Winter Solstice to test SAAF readiness


Starting on Saturday the SA Air Force (SAAF) will stand up and be counted for operational and combat readiness when Exercise Winter Solstice 1V starts.

The two week long exercise will see portions of airspace over Eastern and Northern Cape utilised by jets, helicopters and transport aircraft in partially simulated field training exercise. Areas where heightened military activity can be expected are Bulembu and Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape with Upington, De Aar and Kimberley also in line for more military movements than usual.
“The field training exercise will exercise and evaluate military personnel, military systems and procedures in the operational command and control environment at all different levels responsible for command and control of SAAF air operations. What the exercise will do is ensure SAAF command and control competence in terms of the force’s responsibility to provide combat ready SAAF elements to the Chief: Joint Operations,” Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Maseko said.

He could not provide details of participating aircraft but did say he was sure the necessary arrangements were in place with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure general, civil and other aviation sectors would be made aware of movement of military aircraft.
“A simulated battle will see increased military presence and activity in part of Eastern Cape for the duration of the exercise. There will also be increased aircraft noise in the area as jets, various helicopter types and fixed wing aircraft will be deployed in execution of Winter Solstice 1V.
“Heavy duty vehicles will be utilised to deploy radars and other ground support systems. These transport vehicles will be on Eastern Cape roads during the deployment of ground support systems and elements as well as during the various stages of the ‘attacks’ and repositioning of support systems and elements as the simulated battle reaches different advance stages,” he said.

The exercise is set to end on August 10 when the Blue Force succeeds in its intervention against the Red Force to ensure the continued sovereignty of Eastern Cape.

Previous iterations of Winter Solstice have seen command post exercises staged in North-West, Northern Cape and Free State.