A decommissioned SA Air Force (SAAF) Puma helicopter airframe has been added to the inventory of training aids at 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment in Potchefstroom.
With uniformed intelligence operators, better known as scouts, generally deployed on surveillance taskings via helicopter, the airframe will provide a realistic level of training often not present in the current tight financial situation the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) finds itself in.
Acknowledging this, SA Army Intelligence Formation General Officer Commanding Brigadier General Nontobeko Mpaxa said the airframe “will serve as a realistic replacement in the event the SAAF is unable to provide an aircraft for helicopter training”.
The airframe will also allow for better and more hands-on training prior to training on a serviceable helicopter. This will also cut down on the time needed for training with rotary-winged aircraft, another cost saving measure.
Scouts will use the Puma airframe to properly orient themselves with regard to danger areas, crew positions, entry and exit points and preparation for landing. Helicopter trooping drills, including embussing and debussing, seating arrangements and protection of the aircraft in a landing zone will also now have an added dimension of reality. These drills can be safely practised day and night to fully familiarise scouts with the air transport that will take them to predetermined surveillance positions on deployments including border protection, anti-poaching operations and peacekeeping or peace support.
Having an airframe on hand at the Regiment will also see better training when it comes to packing supplies for delivery to scouts deployed at forward surveillance posts. This, Mpaxa said, will be of particular value to those undergoing the surveillance troop sergeant’s course. These are the men and women charged with ensuring scouts have the necessary food, water, ammunition and other specialist equipment to properly execute their tasks.
Overall, the one star general is confident the newest training aid will “significantly” improve the standard of training at the Formation’s School of Tactical Intelligence. She also indicated the airframe would be made available to other units in the Potchefstroom area for training purposes.