The South African Air Force (SAAF) this morning held a joint Air Force Day and candidate officers commission parade at Air Force Base Waterkloof as the SAAF celebrates 95 years of existence.
31 candidate officers took part in the commissioning parade and were conferred officer’s ranks by the Chief of the Air Force (CAF), Lieutenant General Fabian Z Msimang, who also handed over the floating Sword of Honour to the candidate officer who excelled the most during her training. The Chief of the Air Force also announced that Air Force Bloemspruit was the Prestige Unit of the year for 2014.
“Apart from bearing witness to this commissioning parade of these new officers…we are commemorating the 95th anniversary of the South African Air Force…the second oldest in air force in the world. Through its 95 years of existence, it is evident that the South African Air Force has, and must continue to guarantee air power excellence in everything that it does. How else can it therefore be of consequence and a beacon of hope, if it does not appropriate its role in the African Agenda? This is one of the fundamental reasons compelling the South African Air Force in the coming financial year…to give special attention to capacity building and the enhancement of its capabilities.
“Transformation, capacity building, career planning, exchange programmes with other air forces, foreign learning opportunities, capturing our collective history, back to basics and introducing chess to the whole of the Air Force will be some of my focus areas for this year,” Msimang told assembled guests as well as the hundreds of Air Force personnel taking part in the parade.
“One of the Ministerial Priorities is the transformation and revitalisation of the Reserves. It is my intent to build the SAAF Reserve Force capability that is relevant and potent in all musterings, and to support the Reserve Force Flying Squadrons. Proper career planning and administration of the SAAF Reserve Force members will be high on my agenda this year.” Msimang added that the University Reserve Training Programme continues to be implemented by the South African Air Force.
“Given the Government’s focus on Peace, Security and Stability on the African continent, each and every one of us must be combat ready to respond and to defend our territorial integrity and national interest. His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic and the Commander In Chief of the SANDF, stated in his address on the occasion of the Mandela Medal Parade, Waterkloof Air Force Base on the 7th of December last year, ‘Our soldiers are highly regarded with regards to peacekeeping and post-conflict reconciliation missions under the auspices of the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community. We have indeed made an indelible mark in the field of Peace Support Operations and have become a key role player,'” Msimang said.
“As you may recall, last year we hosted what has now become a national asset in the form of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD). Whilst there may have been challenges, this instalment of the show was the most successful to date…we now look forward to AAD 2016 and trust that we can count on your support and positive contributions for another great successful event.
“As the South African Air Force, we have taken a resolute commitment to ensure that we work closely with the South African Defence Industry as a partner of choice. The South African Air Force, supported by the South African Defence Industry, will ensure that our soldiers are well equipped and supported as we continue to bring peace and security here at home and abroad.”
Performing the initial flypast and carrying flags were an Oryx and A109 helicopter. After the parade and Msimang’s address, aircraft from the South African Air Force Museum at Air Force Base Zwartkop flew over in several waves. First up was a flight of two Alouette IIIs, an Alouette II and a Puma. These were followed by a Bosbok, Kudu and Albatross; five Harvards, and finally a Vampire.
SAAF Director: Corporate Staff Services Brigadier General Marthie Visser told defenceWeb that the main reason for using almost exclusively Museum aircraft was that it was a great way to showcase some of the 95 years of SAAF history, and it was also due to the limited availability of funding and aircraft.
Visser said she was doubtful that the SAAF would get more funding but that the Air Force still manages with what it’s got. However, she said that General Msimang is looking at airlift options to address the current shortfall.
Regarding the Defence Review, she said that the Defence Review Implementation Project team is busy looking at implementation but she could not say how much of the Defence Review would be implemented, or when.
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