South African Special Forces are normally a very low-profile unit and are publicity-shy, but they put this aside for the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 exhibition, displaying boats from the seaward Special Forces application and a Hornet Rapid Deployment Reconnaissance Vehicle (RDRV) from the landward side.
Major Peet Venter described what the Special Forces Brigade does. He said the Brigade was made up of 4 Special Forces Regiment at Langebaan in the Western Cape, 5 Special Forces Regiment at Phalaborwa and the Special Forces School at Murrayhill, north of Pretoria.
He explained that the main task of Special Forces remained reconnaissance. Other tasks undertaken by the unit included support of state departments, either in Africa, VIP protection or actions associated with external deployments; support of external operations; training teams and protection elements; and anti-rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
Major Venter confirmed the Special Forces’ presence in Operation Copper, the anti-piracy patrol in the Mozambique Channel, but would not be drawn on details: “Most of the work that we do is training.” This included training of the South African Police Service and to a lesser extent of other state departments.
On international co-operation, Major Venter said: “I’m not aware of any training with regards to information or joining up with American Special Forces, but basically, in the whole Spec Ops environment, training goes in the same manner.”
“We do take cognisance of the things that happen in Afghanistan and Iraq and we take note of the lessons learned there, so some of the stuff influences us, but doctrine and policy and execution of operations and training is Africa-specific. The environment where we work is completely different from what they do and where they deploy.”
“We’ve taken part in exercises in Southern Africa to test the commonality of our Special Forces and those of other countries, either further north or neighbouring countries.
Major Venter introduced the Hornet RDRV, saying it was a product of Project Ambition 1A. “It’s a vehicle supplied to Special Forces for airborne use. It’s a modular concept with removable platform. This referred to a section in the back of the vehicle which could be replaced quickly for troop transport, command and control, light strike actions, or fire support to other Special Forces on the ground. One version, Major Venter said, could carry a Milan III anti-tank missile launcher.
There are three seats in the front, for a driver, a gunner and commander. The left-hand window can be lowered to carry a light machine gun (LMG) and the Hornet can carry a .50 calibre (12.7mm) heavy machine gun. Venter said the top-mounted gun could vary anywhere between a 7.62 machine gun, all the way up to a 20 mm cannon.
“There’s a full communications suite inside the vehicle as well, for instance, team communications.”
The Hornet has a basic mass in of 2 100 kg, and carries a payload of 1 200 kg.It has a Diesel Detroit VM motor and a fuel tank capacity of 100 litres.